Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter

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When I first removed Facebook from my phone, I wanted to begin reading again. For almost two years, although I read a lot of comic books, I could not finish a book. In fact, I had finished one – and that was due to being on airplanes a lot. I would always grab my phone after reading a few pages to see what was happening. But without that crutch, I grabbed a book I purchased months earlier – Break in Case of Emergency. I knew Jessica Winter as an editor at Slate and wanted to read the book based on recommendations on many Slate podcasts. It seemed like a good book to start reading again.

The story revolves around a young woman who begins a new job at a website controlled by a celebrity. Other subplots work its way through the story, but overall, the workplace dynamics were what kept me reading. In fact, I believe this structure permeates all of our culture.

Reviewing Break in Case of Emergency

We have two conditions:

  1. We idolize celebrity too strongly.
  2. People need to say no.

In Break in Case of Emergency, a young woman recently lost her job and a friend helped her get a new one. The job was at a feminist nonprofit run by a celebrity. But the job she thought she took never really existed. Instead, she lives in an amorphous position that includes too many emails, a lot of ridiculous tasks, and leadership that had no plan. Unfortunately, I think this may be the culture of corporate America. As a nation in the middle of a huge shift economically, we spend a lot of time putz-ing around.

In the course of her new job, she has several incredibly sad events occur that were reflected through the lens of others in her life. But in the end, her workplace life spoke the most to me. Winter captured the monotony and numbness of corporate life. The endless status meetings where statements are made – but nothing happens after. The colleagues at work that appear to work with you but in the end, don’t really care too much. And in the end, you just need to move on.

Of course, it really never is that easy. But Break in Case of Emergency provides an interesting set of characters in a short time frame with a particular set of circumstances. In an age where everything needs to continue, it really was nice to read a book that needed nothing else. Winter created a character that I wanted to read in a funny and satisfying story.

If nothing else, it made me want to grab more books and not get so tied into daily work dramas.

 

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