Synopses & Reviews
Another biting satire from Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, authors of the #1 New York Times
bestseller The Nanny Diaries
Working in a world where a college degree qualifies her to make photocopies and color-coordinate file folders, twenty-four-year-old Girl is struggling to keep up with the essential trinity of food, shelter, and student loans. So when she finally lands the job of her dreams she ignores her misgivings and concentrates on getting the job done...whatever that may be.
Sharply observed and devastatingly funny, Citizen Girl captures with biting accuracy what it means to be young and female in the new economy. A personal glimpse into an impersonal world, Citizen Girl is edgy and heartfelt, an entertaining read that is startlingly relevant.
"McLaughlin and Kraus (The Nanny Diaries) are back with another tale of woe featuring a 20-something New Yorker searching for a way out of her miserable life. This hyperventilating satire features Girl, an ambitious feminist whose well-known girl-empowering boss saddles Girl with the worst tasks, steals her ideas and finally cans her for speaking out. After a desperate search, Girl is hired for a dream job with a matching dream salary. As the Director of Rebranding Knowledge Acquisition for My Company, she doesn't exactly know what she's supposed to do, but it involves dodgy activities with her boss and being made over to fit in with a new California client. 'You're lucky to even be here....We're about to buy you a few thousand dollars' worth of suits. So just go try on the Goddamn bikini....Honey, what're ya gonna do about the bush?' As work goes from bad to worse, the only light in Girl's tunnel is Buster a sweet boy/man who creates video games for a living and who fluctuates between fleeing Girl and being there for her. But when a new boss takes My Company into a whole new darker direction (think sex industry), Girl is forced to make a decision between morals and money. Though witty and biting in spots, this bitter tale is too schematic and strident to be much fun. Agent, Suzanne Gluck at ICM. (Dec.) Forecast: The peccadilloes of Upper East Side mothers are a far cry from the sins catalogued here. Nanny Diary fans who pick this up may find they've gotten more than they bargained for. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Many, many funny lines, somewhat incoherent plot. But Girl's job-hunting woes will resonate with lots of readers." Kirkus Reviews
"McLaughlin and Kraus deftly satirize postfeminist, postmodern, twenty-first-century America....The authors have conjured up a vision of America that's just this side of dystopian, and their funhouse-mirror worldview generates its own strange suspense." Booklist
"A satire about staying true to one's values while also staying employed, [Citizen Girl] is meatier and more engaging than Diaries think The Beauty Myth meets Sex and the City....McLaughlin and Kraus keep us amused." Austin American-Statesman
"[T]he much anticipated, overhyped encore from this writing duo isn't as moving or believable....McLaughlin and Kraus don't seem to be up to the challenge....Citizen Girl lags behind The Nanny Diaries in originality, believability and plot." Chicago Sun-Times
"Citizen Girl is more full of limp cartoons than it is of real and relevant crusades....This clever team may have made a bit of a mess here, but it's nothing they can't clean up next time around." Newsday
"Not only will this latest comic adventure appeal to the thousands of less-than-affluent urbanites who laughed through the duo's best-selling debut...but it would also seem to be a natural for young working women dealing with crazy bosses and shifting job descriptions." Boston Globe
"[A] readable, lively book...an entertaining read that puts in perspective just how crazy all workplaces are....[A] welcome addition to its genre: instead of a decent husband, our heroine seeks a sane boss. Funny that they're equally elusive." New York Sun
"The Nanny Diaries team is back with another biting satire....While a fun if a bit harsh read, the novel gets drawn out near the end." Library Journal
"Stranded between its glib, high-gloss tone...and its earnest attempts to say something deep about the new economy and young women's place in it, this is one confused Girl." The Village Voice
"[A] royal bore....The passing years haven't done much to sharpen the writers' prose style....The girls will probably coast on their earlier success and the continued fine work of their jacket designers... (Grade: D)" Entertainment Weekly
"These young authors have a knack for comedy, and there are priceless scenes here, some set at career fairs and in the halls of NYU, that will delight cubicle dwellers everywhere." Hampton Family Life
"[Their formula] was fresh and subversive the first time, made famous by its wryly observed details. This new novel, however, has the staleness of '80s chick-empowerment movie Working Girl, and the details now bore instead of titilate." Buffalo News
"[H]aving to read this brain-numbing book from start to finish...was the visual equivalent of a chokehold....A noble endeavor but flimsy characters, bad writing and an absurd excuse for a plot make Citizen Girl a major disappointment." USA Today
"In The Nanny Diaries, McLaughlin and Kraus successfully parodied the world they knew; here it's hard to keep track of the (rather blunt) barbs as they wobble toward their various targets." The New Yorker
takes shots at every single instance of one woman's confrontation with male society during the course of a few months. It does this while being wickedly funny and well written but not dogmatic or finger wagging....Every working woman in her twenties and thirties can relate to this novel and laugh along with the all-too disturbing situations Girl finds herself in. Citizen Girl
proves that young working women are a huge market who don't need anachronistic books about shopping or romance shoved down their throats." Sacha Zimmerman, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
Citizen Girl follows an ambitious and idealistic young woman as she confronts what it means to be young and female in the new economy, where a college degree entitles you to make copies and color-coordinate file folders if you're lucky. Struggling to keep up with the essentials of food, shelter, and student loans. Girl works with a group of waist-band-adverse women who refuse to acknowledge her talents or her ambition. But the "job from hell" is nowhere near as bad as unemployment turns out to be so when Girl finally lands the job of her dreams, she ignores her misgivings and concentrates on getting the job done...even though she's not quite sure what the job is...
"Citizen Girl" follows an ambitious and idealistic young woman as she confronts what it means to be young and female in the new economy, where a college degree entitles one to make copies and color-coordinate file folders--if one is lucky. From the authors of "The Nanny Diaries."
About the Author
Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin write together in New York City. This is their second novel.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Guide
1) Describe Girl's personality and main characteristics. What is your overall opinion of her? Her character is more fully revealed through her experiences at "My Company" and through her encounters in her social life. How does she react when she discovers the true nature of the initiative she is heading? What is behind her reluctance to speak up and what does this say about her overall character?
2) What is the significance of the character names? Girl, Guy and Buster are all generic methods of addressing individuals. What does this symbolize in the book?
3) Do you think Girl's experiences are typical of a recent college graduate? What about her perception of the working world reflects her age and/or inexperience?
4) Girl's job search leads her to "My Company." What does she find appealing about working there? How much of her desire to work there is influenced by her alternatives? Do you think it would have held the same appeal under different circumstances?
5) Feminism is a constant theme throughout the novel. Discuss how it is presented through the story, the peripheral characters, and through Girl and her encounters.
6) What are your initial impressions of Guy and Rex? What are the main aspects of their personalities? Does your perception of these characters change by the end of the novel?
7) Why does Girl feel it is important to seem complacent, even as her situation and conflict reach higher levels? Do you think Girl's willingness to cooperate in order to salvage her job is justifiable?
8) Discuss Buster's character. Is he portrayed as different or similar to the other male characters in the novel? What are some of the main conflicts between Buster and Girl?
9) The novel provides several different female characters. Who are the most extreme characters? Of these extreme characters, which characteristics are most emphasized? What does Girl ultimately learn from these other women? Which female characters provide role models for Girl?
10) How are men represented in the novel? Do Girl's reactions and relationships with the men in the novel represent realistic examples of the relationships between men and women?
11) What is the significance of Manley's name? What are the contradictions in her character that both confuse and anger Girl? Compare her character with the men of the novel. What are the similarities and differences?
12) Girl is consistently trying to balance her feminist values with the overwhelming demands of her employment. Do you think this is a possibility in the type of situation and work environment she consistently finds herself in? What are some of the examples from the book of other female characters compromising or finding a type of balance?