A disturbingly ambitious woman finds herself challenged by mysterious crises—both personal and professional—in Cohen’s painfully funny satire of the tech industry.
In Shelley Stone, Cohen has created an aggressively unlikable yet captivating and entertaining heroine. Twenty years ago, as a directionless 20-year-old, Shelley was struck by lightning, a trauma for which she claims to be grateful despite the physical pain it inflicted. She doesn’t care that the lightning shriveled her pleasure receptor or that she now scores low on the likability scale. What matters is that the lightning strike changed her brain in ways that made her into the driven woman she’s become. Shelley is married and has two children—readers will concur with her amazement at having attracted financial-analyst husband Rafe, who goes along with her scheduled 12 minutes of daily sex even though his own pleasure principle remains intact—but she's primarily committed to her role as CEO of Conch, a company producing personal data repositories shaped like shells and worn behind users’ ears. On a family vacation in France, Shelley’s 4-year-old daughter, Nova, disappears while Shelley and Rafe are distracted by work calls; more disturbing, both parents continue their calls while searching for her. Fortunately, a stranger finds Nova, a stranger who somehow has Shelley’s cellphone number and seems oddly excited to meet her when returning the child. Within weeks, Shelley meets another stranger: Michelle looks like a younger version of Shelley herself, down to the same scar on her arm, and has experienced the same childhood. Is a pre-lightning strike, alternate self possible? Or is Shelley having a nervous breakdown? Shelley is rattled but cynical enough to have her doubts. Meanwhile Conch suddenly faces serious quality control issues that she must solve to save her job. And then there’s Rafe’s plan to move with the kids to Brazil, with or without Shelley.
Clever, original, and unabashedly silly fun.