Well, if you're reading this, you're connected online in some way - reading blogs, surfing websites, tweeting, posting etc. Now how much time do you spend online?
Alex Lyons, the main character in Jessica Grose's debut novel, Sad Desk Salad, spends a minimum of twelve hours a day online. She's a writer for Chick Habit - a women's website that skewers just about anything and everything. When Alex receives an anonymous email with a link to a blockbuster scoop, she has to decide if her job is worth more than her morals. For, the scoop may ruin another young woman's life. And is the job ruining hers?
It was interesting to see behind the scenes of an online site - the frenetic postings, the pressure to find the next scoop, to have the comments and stats needed to stay on top. Grose herself worked as an editor at Jezebel and Slate. Both publications bear a remarkable similarity to Chick Habit, so it truly seems like Grose has given us a real insider's look behind the curtain.
Grose raises interesting questions about our fascination with celebrity, gossip and the effect modern media has on our lives, using Alex as a vehicle. Sadly though, I just didn't like the main character. I found Alex to be shallow and self centred and very two dimensional. I identified more with her best friend Jane, who was more grounded and saw things with clearer eyes. Although Alex makes some personal revelations as the book progresses, they just came too late for this reader. (And I'm pretty grossed out by the fact that she doesn't bother showering and wears the same mu mu for nearly a week.)
There is a thinly veiled 'mystery' that kept me reading as I wanted answers. And, I wanted to know if Alex would reclaim her life. The final chapters do provide neat tying up of ends.
Fans of the aforementioned online sites will eat this book up, but for this reader it was just okay.Tag lines have declared the book funny and comic. Others may find it humourous, but I didn't. The cover is pretty cute though. Speaking of eating - the title?
"We get the most readers around lunch-time, when girls in offices all over the East Coast eat their sad desk salads and force down bites of desiccated chicken breasts while scrolling through our latest posts. We get another traffic bump around four, when our West Coast counterparts eat their greens with low-fat dressing."
On reading the author's notes at the end, Grose thanks many people - "for encouraging the crazy idea that I could write a novel in five months while holding down a full-time job without having a nervous breakdown. And they were mostly right." Hmm..... Read an excerpt of Sad Desk Salad.
"Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, Spin, and several other publications, and on Salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband." You can find Jessica Grose on Facebook and on Twitter.
Mine is just one opinion on the TLC tour. See what others thought - full schedule can be found here.