Startup is Doree Shafrir’s inaugural novel. It was written before the Me Too movement made its way into the national consciousness, but it describes a myriad of the ways sexism influences women’s workplaces and lives. To wit:
- Sabrina, a formerly stay-at-home mother, getting back into the workforce and getting little to no support from her husband, Dan.
- Katya, who works for Dan, doesn’t realize that her boss is flirting with her because she’s so heads down working harder than any other person in the book.
- Isabel, Sabrina’s boss and younger than her, had a casual affair with the founder of the startup they both work at. Once Isabel is over it and the founder isn’t, she gets fired.
I worked at Amazon when it was coming out of its start-up mode in the late 90s and I can tell you that a lot of the ridiculousnesses that are described in the book rang true to me. Work parties that border on the inappropriate? Poorly thought-through inter-office relationships? A blind spot when it comes to work-life balance? Work attempting to become your life? It was lovely to see all of these things satirized in a novel full of rich characters.
Startup isn’t a great novel – it is a first one – but it is a light-hearted one that takes on some serious issues. I look forward to her next book.