Citizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

This book chronicles the working escapades of Girl – unnamed because I am assuming the authors want us to know that she could be anybody, i.e., you and me.

We follow her after graduation from college, subsisting in the Big Apple, and falling into the unemployed life predestined for us liberal arts geeks. We briefly meet her loopy, left-wing family and then follow her attempts to attain a job that would not impugn her ideals.

While the storytelling was fast-paced, it was maybe a little too much. The authors sacrifice entire blocks of time for the delivery speed of the novel; however, this is Girl’s story, so it’s a nod to how she sees things differently from others.

I stopped to think of my own experience in the corporate world as well, and it truly is this way. Everything moves fast or slow. Almost always, something is never explicitly stated; we must take what they don’t say to be the truth.

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After meeting Guy at a networking event, she lands a job at My Company, Inc. Of course, she’s unsure of the expectations of the role. Still, she dives in with some difficulty, relying on her acquired knowledge to help My Company by wooing Ms. magazine and later, Bovary, a lingerie company.

And before she can turn around or even make sense of what she’s doing, she’s made Vice-President. I thought that was sort of random. Her ballsiness got her hired, and the expectation was to give a feminist slant to My Company Inc’s end goal. It’s not even clear to her or the readers what their end goal is until the third half of the book.

Her relationship with Buster seemed a little tacked on too. It seems to me that a girl with so much on her plate wouldn’t be willing to make a relationship with Buster – a video game engineer – work right then. But, then, that’s what sets me apart from Girl. I’d instead be working in video games myself!

Furthermore, this book reinforces the idea that we should never meet our heroes. Julia Gilman’s character arc starts well. Girl needs an unbiased mentor to guide her because Guy certainly isn’t until the third half of the book that you go, “Really Julia? Really?” Money is everything, and Julia – let alone My Company Inc – drives that home.

I’m not going to discuss the naming scheme given to certain characters. They’re apparent, and people talk about it in all the other reviews.

This story’s moral is feminist liberal arts majors have no business in the corporate environment. I enjoyed the book but felt something was missing.

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Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a writer and editor of Filipino heritage and the host of the City of Writers podcast. Her work has appeared in TechTarget, Nevada Humanities, and Helen: A Literary Magazine. She has an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco and is an Anaphora Arts poetry fellow. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally, if one could call living there normal, on Southern Paiute land. Follow her on Twitter.

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