The Boys' Club by Erica Katz
Published by Harper
Publication date: August 4, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Debut, Fiction, New Adult
Klasko & Fitch is a massive law firm where the best of the best work, so Alex Vogel is thrilled to be hired there. When she learns the most powerful and lucrative group in the firm is Mergers & Acquisitions, she signs up. She’s energized, not intimidated, because Alex always likes to win. The Boys’ Club is a high-octane debut novel about this first-year associate’s determination to run with the big dogs and win. And what happens when she realizes that even in 2015 the rules of the game are still different for women.
Alex quickly falls into a groove with the men in the M&A group. She’s one of only two women chosen to do deals with them and battles with several other associates to be one of the two people chosen to permanently join the team. She’s given her own nickname, Skippy—because she’s so preppy and proper, and proves she can hold her own by working 36 hours straight, sleeping on a couch, and matching the guys shot for shot after work. She’s very good at her job, but as the months pass and the rewards pile up, she starts hearing rumors about herself and her success. That plus dealing with a predator who’s the firm’s biggest client, take some of the shine off wanting to join the boys’ club.
Sometimes book comparisons makes me nuts (I almost won’t read thrillers compared to Gone Girl because it’s been done to death). The Boys’ Club is referenced as being a “legal Sweetbitter”. Hhhmmm…so long hours at work, hard partying, fraying relationships? Yes. Yes. And yes. A spot-on comparison. Except that one of the few differences between the two novels is that these baby lawyers make obscene amounts of money. Which they spend on booze, high-end restaurant food, and drugs. Apparently, those are the only things young lawyers like when they’re not working 80+ hours a week.
Author Erica Katz syncs her writing in The Boys’ Club to match the imagined atmosphere at any kind of institution that deals with the 1%. Whether it’s the offices, the clothes, or the vacation homes, every detail in the novel screams wealth. She also tips her hand by beginning the book with a deposition in which Alex is a witness for the prosecution. These transcripts appear in-between chapters and add to the mounting questions about what’s going on. They press the point: how long can Alex overlook everything that is wrong at Klasko in order to keep enjoying the outrageous perks like five figure bonuses for new hires and preferential treatment at hotels and restaurants? Whether it’s subtle harassment or difficult situations that pit one female employee against another, Katz highlights the myriad of ways sexism permeates the workplace.
I shoved the feeling that I was somehow betraying my sex out of my mind. It was all too easily replaced by the sweetness of inclusion.
None of this is to say, The Boys’ Club reads like a true-life litany of what women go through in testosterone saturated companies. The novel is propulsive with scenes that bring NYC and the early days of a professional career to life. I read, remembered, and then marveled at my own memories of business dinners, followed by bars with friends, followed by work at 7am. How the hell did we survive that?!
A final intriguing aspect of this book: the author is Erica Katz, but that’s a pseudonym. Her bio says she worked at one major law firm in NYC and now works at another. Very interesting…certainly lends credibility to some of the more unsavory occurrences and practices in the novel. All in all, despite a plot that wobbles a bit towards the end, I was hooked on The Boys’ Club. Addictive summer reading.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Harper publishers in exchange for an honest review.*