A high-spirited heroine loses herself in a vortex of modern striving in this debut novel.
Casey Pendergast is the definition of “plucky” except for the old-fashioned sound of the word. Casey is a thoroughly millennial 28-year-old, living in a Minneapolis that has its own Real Housewives franchise and working at an upscale ad agency. She’s such a fast-rising star at work that she delays pursuing her dream: finding a televised outlet for her wit and enthusiasm (which drive the biting narration along with raw insight into her own insecurities). At the moment, she's in a moral bind, pulled between loyalty to her leftist best friend, an aspiring novelist, and a new opportunity at her job selling authors to corporations for a profit. Money—that marvelous, temporary healer of all wounds—and accolades from her boss are her initial choice, though she’s barely able to ignore the angel clutching her shoulder, which only gets louder as she barrels headlong into the work. She’s delightfully effective at it, convincing writer after writer to shill for products. One cost of doing business, however, is being sexually assaulted by one of her marks. Casey believes she can weather this rain shower and gain the upper hand, but one lesson of this topical book is that women are not easily—or ever—granted the upper hand, no matter how plucky or right they are. The realism is a downer, presaging and speaking to the recent sea change in views on sexual abuse and assault. But the other lesson regards success as defined by capitalism versus success as defined by the soul. Here, Franson has better news.
Come for the hilarious narration, stay for the whirlwind plot, luxuriate in the satirical gleam.