Smile and Look Pretty

Park Row: Harlequin. Dec. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780778311126. pap. $16.99. F
DEBUT The “whisper network” goes digital in this story of what some women put up with to become successful. Friends Cate, Lauren, Olivia, and Max are all executive assistants in New York, waiting to be promoted to their dream jobs. All four languish and must endure outrageous expectations from their bad bosses, with no hint of advancement. To vent, they gather weekly at a bar to destroy the Shit List—each woman’s written complaints about her boss’s absurd behavior—by burning the paper in a candle flame. When Cate realizes that they must go one step further to “plot against the patriarchy,” she creates a Twentysomething, a website where women can anonymously post about their own bosses’ terrible conduct. Writing as the Bossy One, the Bitchy One, the Aggressive One, and the Emotional One, the founding friends expose the toxic environments their employers have created (like Olivia seeing her boss’s genitals 124 times). Sexual harassment becomes a common thread, and the site goes viral as an outlet to reveal generations of bad behavior. How far are the friends willing to go to start a revolution?
VERDICT Readers will cheer Pellegrino’s shattering of the glass ceiling in this fast-paced, millennial-centric, you-go-girl novel about workplace empowerment.
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