This story set in the 1980s centres on Shelby and Astrid who are starting out their careers at a PR firm sharing a small cubicle. The cramped setting does little to alleviate their "hate at first sight" relationship.
Shelby thinks Astrid is an aloof ice queen while Astrid fails to hide her disdain of Shelby with her cheap clothes and ill-matched earrings. Yet when the girls are put together to help organise a PR event, they find that they work well together.
Astrid sees Shelby in a different light and reaches out to her. It turns out that the two women actually have a lot in common - sadly, both have been sufferers of sexual abuse and harassment - Shelby from her stepfather and Astrid through her dealings with her lecherous boss, Brad. Their self-esteem has been dented by this and both find themselves making choices in life and love, coloured by their experiences and sometimes their decisions are not the best for them.
Shelby and Astrid need to come out fighting to make their mark on the world but do they have the strength to do this and at what personal cost to themselves? Will they be another casualty of the sexist world they find themselves in or can both overcome their histories to find their inner strength and not let the past win?
This was a very thought-provoking book. Given that it was set in the 1980s, it highlighted a lot of the challenges and obstacles women have had to face in the male-dominated business world. The author dealt with a lot of dark themes: incest, sexual abuse, degradation, and the devastating repercussions of them. Both women have really suffered but what I admired about them is rather than let their experiences overwhelm them, they fought back and ultimately, came out stronger. The fact that they felt they would not be believed or even heard was upsetting for me to read but the characters seemed to draw on inner resolve and even though felt like giving up, they never did.
The story was very empowering, especially to females. The friendships forged and the women characters drawn were positive role models and showed the beauty of female solidarity. I enjoyed this book immensely - it was an insightful, compelling and well-written tale of a time in the past, showing the strength of the female psyche and how women have fought to make their mark on the world. Very engaging and inspiring. (LP)