Ever since childhood, native Californian Emily Hinton longed for the bright life of New York City. The allure of fashion, excitement, and a fast-paced beat compelled her to apply to NYU directly after high school, but when financial matters ended that dream, she settled for nearby San Diego State University. After completing her education, Emily continued to make plans to get out of nondescript, uninteresting Jenks, CA.
Enter the faithful (in every sense of the word) Uncle Matthew, the only Hinton to live in New York, who sets Emily up with an interview at Morrow & Sons. To Emily's ecstasy, she gets hired, finds an apartment to share, and is raring to go "change the world." Little does she realize how great an impact this new world will have on her.
The innocent, worldly, guileless Emily must do her best to get past those emotionally horrendous transitional moments with her bizarre roommate Brittany, who alternates charging Emily the odd penny every other month on expenses; Xavier, Emily's editor boss who dresses in Darth Vader garb and licks peanut butter from the jar with his finger sans spoon; and the other associate editors --- Regina, Lane and Skylar --- with whom Emily has virtually nothing in common except their place of employment.
As Emily finds her feet in the working world of publishing, she begins to relax. Eating out daily is the only feasible practice for a working gal like her, so she is told. Sadly, going out nightly to bars and drinking, sometimes heavily, is also another "expectation" glibly tossed Emily's way through her only friends, her fellow editorial assistants. Desperate to fit in, and realizing her lifelong dream of making a successful transition in the big city, Emily finds herself compromising her Christian faith, in small, seemingly insignificant ways: drinking too much or too often, buying into a have-to-have-it materialistic mentality, getting a little too physical with her new boyfriend, and learning to play political games on the job. All these "little" choices begin to eat away at Emily's once confident, kindly trusting nature.
Over time, it's the subtle love and support from her uncle, also a Christian, and an email friend who Emily knew in grammar school that challenge her to think beyond the "expected," and eventually Emily starts taking sensible proactive steps that define her and her faith. She learns to face up to difficult truths, to take ethical stands, and to confront her own inner fears of being rejected for who she is.
By the book's end, readers will have journeyed with Emily and enjoyed the trip. Peppered with gentle humor and edgy dialogue, the authors excel at getting under the surface and to the heart of Emily's struggles, to all our insecurities. Readers will thoroughly enjoy walking alongside this young adult woman as she learns to accept herself in an unaccepting, unsupportive environment. Emily's takeaway is one worth revisiting whenever the temptation to cave in to another's expectations comes calling.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011