In Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose, Alex Lyons is a writer for the website Chick Habit. Sure writing gossipy blog posts wasn't exactly what Alex thought she would be doing with her college education but at least she is writing and getting her name out there. Scouring the web for the next big story means she rarely leaves the couch and she is never completely unplugged. The pressure to drive traffic to the blog is high and her job, and those of the other writers, depend on the number of hits each article receives. Competition for the byline is fierce so when Alex receives a video showing a squeaky clean college girl (whose mom just happens to have done the talk show circuit promoting her parenting book and is now running for political office) in a compromising situation, it seems like Alex's scoop of the year. Alex has doubts though about exposing such a private moment in a public forum. Alex doesn't even anticipate the impact that the story will have on her personal life.
Sad Desk Salad initially comes off as a breezy, chick lit, type of book and in some ways it is. The writing is simple, yet effective, and the characters seem to interact mainly on the surface of things. When I started Sad Desk Salad, I was afraid that it was going to be another book like The Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada. I've already admitted to not really getting the humor in those books. I was very happy to discover that Sad Desk Salad was nothing like that for me. It has funny moments and was light reading but it never felt like I was supposed to find amusement in the negative situations in which Alex finds herself.
Although it never travels too deep, Grose does offer the reader many topics for contemplation including the issue of privacy for individuals related to those in the spotlight. Online bullying is touched upon as well. The business climate for the women of Chick Habit is one of friendliness and camaraderie one day, after discovering the existence of a hate blog about them, to accusing each other of being behind the hate blog and trying to steal each others jobs the next day. Alex spends so much time "reporting" on the gossip of the world or writing stinging commentary on relevant news that she forgets how to actually live in the world. Her romantic relationship and her friendships suffer because she can no longer see past her computer screen. Sometimes I just had to shake my head and wonder if Alex would really be able to repair any of the damage she had caused to her own life.
Sad Desk Salad only took me two days to read and, after the heavy ending to my reading of last year, it was the perfect way to start this year's reading.
I received Sad Desk Salad (October 2012, William Morrow) from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
If you are looking for a site that supports women in business and blogging (essentially the opposite climate from the fictional Chick Habit) check out Project Purse Club
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