Associate in a blue-chip Manhattan law firm copes with blowback from self-defeatism in Buxbaum’s much-hyped but disappointing debut.
Emily Haxby dumps her boyfriend Andrew on Labor Day. Why? Perhaps it’s her punishing schedule at Altman, Prior and Tisch, where the 29-year-old Yale Law grad has been assigned to defend corporate octopus Synergon in a carcinogen-dumping class-action lawsuit. Perhaps it’s because Andrew, a nice emergency-room doc, was trolling for her ring size and diamond preferences. Hoping to parse the enigma, she sees a shrink, Dr. Lerner, who doggedly plumbs Emily’s depths only to founder, like readers, in the shallows. When things threaten to get interesting—Emily is advised to consult A Civil Action for pointers on steamrolling pollution victims; a senior partner exceeds all bounds of decency on a business trip, making Denny Crane look subtle—Buxbaum opts for the easy resolution. Emily engineers the offending partner’s downfall, but quits her job anyway. After her beloved Grandpa Jack goes AWOL from his retirement home, he’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but consequences go mostly unexplored. So does the cordial but distant relationship with Dad that Emily has endured since her mother’s death when Emily was 14. When she finds Andrew newly attractive, he rebuffs all her conciliatory overtures with a harshness that belies his earlier, albeit sketchy, characterization. Grandpa Jack’s death reunites all the principals by teaching them—what else?—the importance of family.
This proposed merger of literary fiction with chick lit contravenes the conventions of both genres.