This clever and relatable novel shines a bright spotlight on the struggles women face in the corporate world. The main character, Asmi, is being considered for a promotion to the Vice President of marketing at her tech company. The other candidate,Scott, is a revolting frat boy type character who thrives in the boys club culture of his team. As Asmi faces a Hunger Games type set of challenges to prove herself worthy of the promotion, she learns a lot about the ways women hold themselves back in the workplace. Malladi uses her personal experience as a marketing executive for a global company to explore several important topics, including self doubt, leaning in, learning not to apologize and balancing personal life and fulfillment with career goals.
“Leaning in, she thought was not just about leaning in at work, it was about leaning in all the way Into life.”
Approaching forty and single, Asmi finds herself at a crossroads. The competition for the promotion forces her to reevaluate both her professional and personal priorities and decide how she wants to live the rest of her life. Malladi’s keen insights and realistic detail about the realities of the corporate world make Asmi and her colleagues feel authentic and human. Her writing is fresh and easy to read and the story flows nicely right up to the satisfying conclusion.
Though I don’t work in the corporate world, as a woman in a medical speciality that is 75% male (radiology), I have experienced so many of the feelings and situations Asmi encounters in this story—I’m sure Asmi’s story will ring true for women in all types of careers.
Jennifer Weiner has said that her newest novel was directly inspired by the outcome of the 2016 election. She watched the way Hillary Clinton was treated by the media, her opponents and knew she had to take a stand, to use her voice to talk about how far women have come and how far we have yet to go.
Everyone is talking about this novel and with good reason. It’s knock your socks off fabulous. I have been a fan of Weiner’s since her debut novel, Good in Bed, was released in 2002, faithfully reading every novel the week of release. In Mrs. Everything she’s taken her writing to the next level. A tender story of two sisters, a sweeping family saga, and a commentary on the role of women in American society, this is a feminist masterpiece.
The story follows sisters, Jo and Bethie, from their childhood in Detroit all the way to their seventies. Each sister struggles to find her place in the world for different reasons. Jo is gay, but because she can’t imagine what her life will look like if she reveals that truth, she marries a man and has three daughters. Despite her deep love for her children, her secret tears her apart from the inside and rules her life. Bethie, who suffered repeated sexual assaults by her uncle as a teenager, wanders aimlessly for years trying to find place of belonging and acceptance. The sisters intermittently support each other and then lose their connection over the years, ultimately finding true meaning and unconditional love in their sibling bond.
Because Weiner and I are of similar age and upbringing, she addresses issues which speak directly to my heart. I found myself reminiscing about my formative years, about songs I listened to and places I went, and challenges I have faced as a woman coming of age and building a career in a man’s world.
I love this passage as Jo thinks about her daughters and what she hopes for their future.
“She loved them. More than that, she admired them. They would be better than she was; stronger and smarter, more capable and less afraid, and if the world displeased them, they would change it, cracking it open, reshaping it, instead of bending themselves to its demands.”
There are so many important themes woven through this book. It’s about the role of women in our country ad how it has or hasn’t changed in a generation, it’s about the unbreakable bonds of family, and it’s about forging your own path in the world despite the inevitable roadblocks and setbacks—amongst so much more. A beautiful and heart breaking read, Jo and Bethie will live in my heart for a long time to come.