Instead, I read this on the recommendation of a friend who mentioned that Reid used to be a receptionist at his company, a job she took (presumably) after the six years she spent as a child sitter for wealthy Manhattan families. Which is to say, Emira is likely at least semi-autobiographical, if not in character/personality then at least in terms of experience. Which shouldn’t have been surprising–the characterization of Alix and her friends is so withering and uncomfortable to have been culled from anything but reality.
All in all, I find myself at odds trying to summarize what’s going on with this book (which I, to be clear, very much liked). Alix and Emira are at times mirror images of one another: both have their own set of three female friends that they’re constantly comparing themselves to, both are stuck in the doldrums both literally (Philadelphia/not-Manhattan and bad apartment) and metaphorically (0 pages written of a book she’s already been paid an advance for, unclear what she wants to do but knowing it’s not this/it’s something with health insurance). But then again, Alix and Emira are nothing alike–in the basic sense (Alix is ten years older, white, wealthy, married, with two kids, and Emira is younger, Black, single, and living paycheck-to-paycheck) and the higher sense of what they care about, what they focus on, what they’re aiming towards.
Alix’s obsession with Emira starts out as cringey and then starts to cross the territory into legitimately weird AF, and as the reader you’re along for the entire journey. It’s sneaky how Reid positions Emira’s aimlessness–“aimlessness,” I should say, because other than the realities of bad apartment and impending lack of healthcare, Emira doesn’t constantly berate herself for not having “achieved,” unless she’s surrounded by her college-educated friends (all WOC) who are finding what they want. But you’re meant to sympathize with all the people who are paternalistically looking out for Emira, trying to help her do what’s best for her (after all, she’s also stressed constantly about her paycheck and health insurance). It’s only when everything spirals so out of control and you take a step back that you realize that there’s something messed up about an adult woman not being allowed to find her own way.