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A fictional account of a young woman's struggles to become an investigative journalist in the early '70s is informative at its best, plodding and colorless at its worst. In a story covering little more than two years, we witness recent college graduate Catherine Gallagher's rise from a writer covering wedding announcements to one doing an exposÇ on welfare families. Under the tutelage of grizzled city editor Jack McGuire, Gallagher learns the ropes at the Rhode Island Wampanoag Times, albeit while still having to handle columns on new recipes and household hints. McGuire, supposedly impressed by Gallagher's spunk (though there's little evidence of it for the reader), lures her away from the women's page. After a story on the closing of a blue- blooded kindergarten, told with biting sarcasm, Gallagher's guts are no longer questioned, and she's ready to slug back countless cups of joe with the guys. Narrow-mindedly, her parents, whom she still lives with, are outraged by her upstart investigative reports, as is much of her readership. McGuire, however, falls in love with her, and the two begin to sneak off to out-of-town motels. Though he constantly berates her, McGuire has her best interests at heart and suggests that Gallagher apply to other newspapers, including the Depointe Bullet, in the tough working- class city of Depointe, Michigan. The managing editor there, charmed by her gritty application letter, hires her. But Gallagher learns that landing the job is easier than keeping it, what with all the in-house politicking, the sexual harassment, and the necessary challenge of holding her own with her hard-drinking fellow newsmen. By the close, both reader and Gallagher have learned much about the inner workings of the newspaper business before computers, but, given the surprise ending, it seems all for naught. McGarry's (The Courage of Girls, 1992, etc.) slow-paced disclosure of one woman's attempt to break into journalism delivers the whole package--people and plot--in a manner and style sufficiently mundane as never to sweep up the reader.*justify no*

Pub Date: July 31st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8018-5634-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997


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