A few years back I watched a movie called The Best of Everything starring Joan Crawford, Suzy Parker, and Hope Lange. IMDB states the movie is about “an exposé of the lives and loves of Madison Avenue working girls and their higher-ups.” Wikipedia explains it a lot better:
The movie relates the professional careers and private lives of three women who share a small apartment in New York City and work together in a paperback publishing company firm.
For me, Wikipedia has it right. Whoever wrote the article also called it a “romantic drama film.” It’s that as well. In all, it’s a great film that I feel everyone should watch, male or female because it gives an inside look at how office politics work, how the higher-ups think and act (or react) and how the business world hasn’t changed much since the 50’s. The only difference is there are computers on desks and mobile devices in hand.
I came across The Could Hurt via Goodreads and reading the summary of the book reminded me of The Best of Everything. I’ve read a review stating that this book reminded someone of the show Mad Men and some elements of Mad Men were taken from this book. I haven’t seen Mad Men so I can’t validate this statement, but I thought it was worth putting out there.
The book is set in 2016 but speak of 2008, during the recession that affected a lot of businesses. Not just those in the real estate industry, but businesses all over. But it’s more than just that. It’s about the goings-on in the prestige research firm Ellery Consumer Research in New York. This is one of those companies everyone strives to get a job in after college. But the office politics and layoffs can become too much for some, as with any job as well as not feeling appreciated for the work one puts in.
As with The Best of Everything, This Could Hurt centers on a group of employees at Ellery, starting with Rosa, the Chief of HR (human resource). We witness the ups and downs of working at a prestige company, which includes layoff, family life, lack of family life or a family and the need to find something better when you feel you’ve reached your end at your current company.
Given insight into each of their lives, we learn that working at a prestige company is not at all what we’ve heard.
We are also privy to the shrewdness of layoffs. Most of us think it’s our managers that determines who leaves and who stays in a time of downsizing, but, from my reading of this book, it’s HR who determines that. Now, this may not be the case in all businesses, but it was the case at Ellery. However, HR (i.e Rosa) was not the only one playing a hand on who still has a job at the end of the week and who doesn’t.
But the book doesn’t just spend time in the office. It also spends times at people’s homes and shows how a job can affect a family and what type of job can affect a family. For example, Kenny’s (Manager oF Compensation and Operations the, wife came from money and has acquired a high paying job herself. Kenny has always tried to live up to her standards. He wants to quit Ellery but can’t tell his wife. Instead, he begins looking for work at another prestige company. But will it be enough personally and professionally for Kenny.
It’s stories like Kenny’s we can all relate to. There’s also Lucy, a go-getter herself who can’t wait to take Rosa’s place as Chief of HR once Rosa retires. She’ll do anything Rosa asks her to while mentally picturing herself behind Rosa’s desk. We have Leo who is happy with his job but is lacking in the love field.
But the most pivotal part of the book is when tragedy strikes one of the employees and how in a time of need everyone came together. It’s also during this tragedy that we see who comes out on top and show accepts their fate.
There are two reasons, actually a ton of reasons why I absolutely loved this book, but I’m only going to touch on a few.
This book is well written as well as easy to read. It doesn’t bore you down with fantasy words or go into too much detail about people’s past. It gives you the information you need while tying it in to their current situation. Medoff does a great job of keeping the flow of the book going to where it is a page-turner. She sets up the players perfectly, as with Kenny looking for another job, and follows through with jaw-droppers. She gives a human side to those who seem to have it all and shows that a high paying job has its price.
This book felt too real to from the mind of a writer. As with Over My Shoulder (read my review) by Patricia Dixon (a book about domestic violence from the point of view of the victim), This Could Hurt could only be written from someone who either witnessed everything she’s written or experienced it first hand. Here’s a snippet of Medoff’s biography (career-wise):
Along with writing novels, Jillian has had a long career in management consulting. She’s worked for a wide range of employers, including Deloitte, Aon, Marsh & McLennan, Revlon, Max Factor and Medco, and is currently a Senior Consultant with a professional services firm, where she advises clients on how to communicate with employees during periods of organizational change. (source: Amazon)
No wonder the story and events in the book seemed so real. Only someone who has been through it could write something so hard-hitting as this book. And it will definitely resonate with anyone who has been through a downsize, felt unappreciated at work or just wanted do and be more than they are at their current job. And let’s not forget the pressure of the spouses who expect more and forget being in a relationship is about supporting each other and not tearing each other down.
I highly recommend you get The Could Hurt when it comes out on 9 January 2018. And if you can, watch The Best of Everything. For those of you that watched Mad Men or are watching Mad Men via a streaming service, you’ll enjoy this book.