“A funny and moving commentary on that point in a woman's life when everything seems to come into question." —Camille Perri, The New York Times
"It's the superb insights and penetrating writing that make this book remarkable... An extraordinary debut." —The Guardian
"Enthralling, sharply observed" —Marie Claire
"Hilarious... The personal and workplace plots are woven together beautifully. Read, cringe, laugh, relate." —Lenny
"In this cutting commentary on workplace toxicity and how its tendrils can strangle relationships, Winter uses humor to illuminate the state of modern work, family, and friendship." —Elle.com
"Sassy, sarcastic and sleek, this is a wonderfully brash appraisal of how we live."—Colum McCann
One of Elle Magazine's 19 Summer Books That Everyone Will Be Talking About
One of Cosmo's Reads for July
One of Refinery29's Two New Books to Read in July by Brilliant Debut Authors
An irreverent and deeply moving comedy about friendship, fertility, and fighting for one’s sanity in a toxic workplace.
Jen has reached her early thirties and has all but abandoned a once-promising painting career when, spurred by the 2008 economic crisis, she takes a poorly defined job at a feminist nonprofit. The foundation’s ostensible aim is to empower women, but staffers spend all their time devising acronyms for imaginary programs, ruthlessly undermining one another, and stroking the ego of their boss, the larger-than-life celebrity philanthropist Leora Infinitas. Jen’s complicity in this passive-aggressive hellscape only intensifies her feelings of inferiority compared to her two best friends—one a wealthy attorney with a picture-perfect family, the other a passionately committed artist—as does Jen’s apparent inability to have a baby, a source of existential panic that begins to affect her marriage and her already precarious status at the office. As Break in Case of Emergency unfolds, a fateful art exhibition, a surreal boondoggle adventure in Belize, and a devastating personal loss conspire to force Jen to reckon with some hard truths about herself and the people she loves most.
Jessica Winter’s ferociously intelligent debut novel is a wry satire of celebrity do-goodism as well as an exploration of the difficulty of navigating friendships as they shift to accommodate marriage and family, and the unspoken tensions that can strain even the strongest bonds.
Winter's debut novel offers an entertaining and smartly satirical glimpse inside a New York City nonprofit startup. Jen, in her mid-30s and a new hire at the Leora Infinitas Foundation (also known as LIFt), attempts to navigate the office culture of meaningless jargon, comically hollow acronyms, and self-congratulatory meetings about vague project proposals. Jen, who is by nature accommodating and eager to please, becomes conflicted as she realizes that the company is more concerned with appearances than empowering women all over the world, as its mission statement claims. Still, unlike her coworker Daisy, who is hilariously blunt in her mockery of the foundation, Jen is determined to please her superiors and succeed in her position, having given up on her dream of becoming a visual artist in favor of a stable income for the next phase of her life. She and her husband have been trying to conceive for long enough that they've devised their own code language for doctors' visits and fertility tests. But as Jen's job begins to affect every aspect of her life, she's forced to reexamine her choices, relationships, and aspirations. This is both a biting lampoon of workplace politics and a heartfelt search for meaning in modern life.