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Citizen Girl    by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus order for
Citizen Girl
by Emma McLaughlin
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Nanny Diaries, I eagerly began Citizen Girl. This second novel by McLaughlin and Kraus is a biting satire about 'Girl'. She's a women's studies college graduate, desperately trying to support herself. Girl needs food, shelter, and money to pay for her student loans. As the story opens, Girl is working at 'The Center for Equity in Community', in a thankless administrative position - her day is spent making color-coded photocopies and coping with her bizarre boss, Doris. Girl thought that she was hired to do research to help women to a better, more equal existence. Instead, she spends her days making copies in the 'Speak-Out-Room', which is really an abandoned closet.

Just when Girl thinks that she can take no more, Doris fires her. Girl enters a new kind of hell: unemployment in Manhattan. In a sagging economy, with bills to pay, and feelings of disenchantment regarding the job opportunities (or lack thereof) for a young female, Girl frantically begins a job search. A bizarre twist of events, including a job fair that serves alcohol and utilizes a black light (think disco atmosphere), leads to Girl landing a job at 'My Company'. Her boss is Guy, who is an energetic, if not frenetic, mover-and-shaker. When he swoops Girl up, she's over-the-moon with her employed again status. She's making money, and My Company is looking to make a substantial pledge to feminist non-profits (or so Girl thinks).

Girl, who is still determined to lift women above their oppressions, is a bit confused about her new role. She is eventually appointed as 'Director of Rebranding Knowledge Acquisition', although she becomes unsure about My Company's commitment to the equality of women. She cannot get a straight answer or any direction from Guy, much less a five-minute meeting with him to go over her work. Stereotypes, designer brand names, and funky trends are peppered throughout the story. They're funny, and at times, startlingly on point, as Girl wades her way through the corporate world wearing rose-colored glasses. Carrying a heavy dose of idealism, she's often shell-shocked by how the corporate world operates and what it expects of her.

The novel is a roller-coaster ride for the generic Girl working for the generic My Company, highlighting the experiences of women in the 21st century's corporate world. While I did not enjoy Citizen Girl as much as The Nanny Diaries, it's a fast, entertaining read. Being a mother and a relatively young professional, I could relate to the themes in both novels, although this second one speaks more to the urban, educated twenty-something female than does Nanny Diaries, which is more directed to the mommy set. I recommend Citizen Girl to youngish career women and those who enjoyed McLaughlin and Kraus's debut, and are curious about their new book.

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