3.5 stars. The Assistants is just the kind of book that’s fun to read, but hard to find anything to say about it. To be fair, it probably would have been easier to review if I was up to date on my reviews and not writing it a month after finishing it. Yikes.
Tina Fontana is the assistant to Robert Barlow, a multinational media mogul in the vein of Rupert Murdoch. He’s richer than God but Tina is the underpaid lackey who makes his life run smoothly. They get along, but Tina is just getting by financially and resents her low salary when Barlow throws tens of thousands at the most trivial things.
When an error occurs in the funding of Robert’s travel expenses, Tina finds herself with enough money to pay off her student loans. She knows using that money instead of returning it to the company is stealing, but the temptation proves too great. From that moment forward it’s only a matter of time before she’s caught. What happens next was a complete surprise though! Tina’s decisions have a ripple effect and end up changing herself, the company, and Barlow.
With a premise like this one, it could have been a really dark book. Instead, it manages to deal with income inequality and gender imbalances while still being on the lighthearted side. I was super impressed that it managed to walk that line so well! The Assistants is a debut novel, so I’ll be very interested to see what Camille Perri writes next.