Thursday, December 20, 2012
Book Review: Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose
Title: Sad Desk Salad
Author: Jessica Grose
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Source: copy received from Mandy at The Well-Read Wife for Mandy's Blogger Book Club
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
As a writer for Chick Habit, an increasingly popular women's website, Alex Lyons gets paid to be a bitch. She's churning out several posts a day, and she saves her juiciest ones for blog prime time, when working women eat their sad desk salads in their offices. Alex tells herself she's fulfilling her dream of being a professional writer; so what if it means being glued to her couch and her laptop from six a.m. to six p.m., scouring the web in search of the next big celebrity scandal? Since Chick Habit's parent company keeps close tabs on page views, Alex knows her job is always at risk.
So when an anonymous tipster sends her the year's most salacious story—a politico's squeaky-clean Ivy League daughter caught in a very R-rated activity—it's a no-brainer. But is Alex really willing to ruin the girl's life by igniting the next Internet feeding frenzy? And what she doesn't yet realize is how this big scoop is about to send her own life spiraling out of control.
First, two things about this cover/title. ONE: the title always reminds me of the Fruit Salad song by The Wiggles. ("Fruit salad...yummy yummy.") Yeah, tag that under #momproblems. TWO: the cover makes me hungry for salad. I may or may not be eating a salad (at my desk) while I write this review. I really love salad.
Well, now that we got that out of the way.
Sad Desk Salad is one of the more fun books I've read in 2012. I place it in the chick lit genre, but it's got a healthy dose of wit and sarcasm that keeps it off the "fluffy" end of the spectrum. Plus, I think any blogger, cubicle monkey, or woman-who-is-20something-or-was-once will relate in some way to Alex. She's fun-loving, clever, and has big hopes and dreams, but she's also self-conscious and has a tendency to get in her own way (don't we all, sometimes?).
At the core of this novel are Alex's struggles to balance her Internet life with her real life. As a blogger, she is steeped in Internet culture all day long--and as a result, her human relationships suffer. Nowadays, I think that's the case for lots of us (even if we don't work online). Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in the latest Facebook drama, and not pay enough attention to the people around our own kitchen tables. I really loved watching Alex contemplate this part of her story.
As far as the plot goes, I am happy to report that this is a chick lit novel that I did NOT find predictable. In the midst of dealing with the aforementioned story about the Ivy League daughter, Alex is also trying to figure out who started a hate blog about her and her fellow bloggers. While there were a few small hints about the culprit throughout the novel, it certainly wasn't enough to make me feel like I knew the answer well before the end. I find that the element of surprise is often lost in this genre, but not so in Sad Desk Salad.
There is a bit of romance in the book (Alex is juggling her work responsibilities with her relationship with Peter, her live-in boyfriend), which provides a nice balance to the work-related drama. But it's not overdone or cutesy in the mode of romance in many other women's fiction novels. Alex is simply trying to find a way to make her work and home life comfortably co-exist--something that I think a lot of 25-year-olds struggle with early in their careers.
Another plus: this novel is very "current". A lot of the dialogue goes on via text, email, and IM. References to pop culture abound (Kardashians, Real Housewives, etc). Grose even updated her novel to include the newest anchor of the Today Show, Savannah Guthrie, in one important scene (though I did see one slip where Ann Curry's name was listed when it should have been Savvy G's--oh snap!). While I do think this could work against the book in the long run (readers 10 years from now are not going to remember David After Dentist on YouTube...I can guarantee it), for a here-and-now read it provides tons of entertainment.
I have one caveat about this book. And it is this: at several points in the novel, the University of Connecticut is named as U Conn. As a Husky alum, I squirmed in my seat every freaking time I read it, because there is most definitely no space there. UConn, people. It's UConn. You heard it here at the Well-Read Redhead first.
Aren't you glad I got that out of my system? If that's my biggest complaint about this book, you better pick it up and read it, like yesterday. I'm a little sad that I already wrote my Best Books of 2012 post, because this one was pretty darn good. Honorable mention!
Mucho thanks to Mandy over at The Well-Read Wife for providing my copy of the book. We will be discussing Sad Desk Salad for Mandy's Blogger Book Club. Grab a copy and join us!