The Assistants by Camille Perri, review by Shelly Walston
Author Camille Perri claims The Assistants is social commentary wrapped in the guise of chick lit, and she's not wrong. Tina Fontana, assistant to a media mogul, is a reluctant hero, even in her own life. She knows when to jump by the tone in her boss Robert's voice; she knows how to lie low, and she knows how to navigate NYC. In short, she's the perfect nobody to the ever-present somebody at the top. Just like a good assistant should be.
It's not until Tina has the opportunity to (unethically) clear her student debt that the albatross around her neck is removed, and she discovers herself, her friends, and an opportunity that her previous self would've never imagined. The novel is a near battle cry for the community of those beleaguered by student debt, a call for collectivism even as its setting is against the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Tina's spirited character is charming, if not meek at first. Reading Perri's novel is to watch Tina grow from a lowly assistant to a woman of her own right; she wields the keys to her own kingdom, as opposed to simply pouring the drinks for those in power. This novel has all the trappings of a perfect beach read: it's light and full of hope. Think 9 to 5 meets Smokey and the Bandit - and for those who miss the 1980s movie references, think Andy from The Devil Wears Prada meets the grit and gumption of Hannah from Girls. You *need* this book in your bag this summer.