Book Review: The Assistants

“The problem is that nobody talks about what they make. It’s shame disguised as humility. Screw that. I’m a thirty-two-year-old assistant and I make $30,000 a year.”

Let’s be real, I initially requested The Assistants from Camille Perri because the cover is super cute. (See: Is There Some Reason Millennial Women Love This Color?) Upon further investigation, I pulled it out of my daunting to-read pile because it’s about an underemployed young woman with student loan debt. The majority of my young friends (myself included) are underemployed with student loan debt, so I was excited to see a literary take on these important issues.

I don’t have as much to say about the book but do have some thoughts on the themes. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters (except maybe Kevin?) or relate much to their individual situations, but I did like the style of writing. You know when you meet someone and you realize they’re cool and you like them, but that you won’t ever be more than acquaintances? That’s how I felt about this book.

The underemployment theme struck a nerve, especially since I am currently in an assistant position and making less money than during my first year out of college. While reading, I could understand the frustrations of the characters when they took care of tedious tasks like preparing drinks for meetings or collecting lunch orders. The feeling of being capable and willing but not in the position to do anything truly valuable is kind of the worst. Also feeling stuck. That is the actual worst.

The book itself wasn’t my favorite, but the topics and plot really got me thinking and I’m hoping that they do the same for those lucky members of society that aren’t affected by student loan debt. I’m also left to wonder – why hasn’t anyone created a non-profit to help with student loan debt? I mean we have scholarships for students, ten-year public service agreements, and awesome advocacy groups out there working to make the situation better for future students, but what do we offer our young adults who are straddled with a $1.2 trillion debt load TODAY?

All in all, The Assistants was an okay book. I will certainly recommend it to my friends who are in similar positions and to the grown-ups I know that are interested in learning about the millennial struggle. I would love to see Camille Perri hit the road and talk about student loan reform on college campuses so if anyone can make that happen here in Madison, hmu.

Has anyone else read this? What are your thoughts?

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