Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#BookReview: The Floater - Sheryl Sorrentino

At the age of 46, Norma Reyes graduated with her law degree, fully expecting to be offered a spot as a first year associate at Robertson, Levine & Shemke (RLS), the firm where she'd clerked the previous summer and received such high praise.  Twenty years of working her way up to supervisor of phone operators while going to school at night have finally paid off.  And even though her ailing mother ridicules her dreams, Norma is determined to make it.

The partners at RLS have never taken Norma seriously.  Yes, she did good work in her summer position, but they would never hire an associate from a less than prestigious law school.  Norma didn't look like them and certainly wouldn't fit in with their client base, given her ethnic background. Luckily, the recession gives them an excuse when they deny her employment as an attorney. While they won't hire her as an attorney, they will hire her as a floater.  Grudgingly, Norma accepts the job, believing that it will only be temporary and that once she passes the bar, she'll be offered the position she deserves.  Poor, gullible Norma.

Weeks of being belittled by everyone from senior partners to first year associates (a group she should have been a part of) start to wear on Norma.  A chance encounter with Oscar Peterson, the mail room supervisor, makes Norma's life a little more bearable.  But their happily ever after is disrupted when Oscar gets wind of a memo about Norma, drafted by one of the senior partners.  Norma will have the fight of her life on her hand if she can get her courage up enough to do something about it.

I was torn between liking, pitying and hating Norma.  It was obvious from the beginning that dealing with her family and men had bruised her self-esteem, but she had to have guts to go back to law school at night at her age.  So while I loved that she was courageous enough to do that, I was mad that she let the attorneys mistreat and lie to her repeatedly while she accepted it.

I also vacillated between liking and disliking Oscar.  He seemed to have Norma's interests at heart, but he was so overly aggressive and insensitive at times that I kept waiting for him to break her heart like her previous boyfriends.  Even by the end of the book, I wasn't sure that she should be with him and wanted to yell out like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, "You in danger, girl!"  Perhaps the author didn't develop Oscar enough to make him likable or maybe it was her intent to make the reader distrust him.  Either way, I can't say that I was happy to see Norma with him.

Another thing that bothered me was how long Norma stayed with the firm, because surely working there as a floater was not the first time she witnessed the assholeness of the place.  As a clerk during the summer, she had to see the way partners treated the support staff.  Or perhaps it was okay with her then because she saw herself as one of them (attorney) instead of one of them (support staff).  Which lends itself to the question, is the mistreatment of others excusable based on their rank in the company hierarchy?  Apparently it was at RLS.

Published: August 2012
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

Theme: Do Something by Macy Grey

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