She’s Got Issues by Stephanie Lessing

She's Got Issues by Stephanie Lessing

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Trade, 286 pages, 2005

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: How could I resist such an adorable cover?

Synopsis: Chloe Rose has just found herself on the path to her dream career at Issues magazine (well, ‘assistant to the assistant’ is bound to lead to the specially-created title of ‘Shoe Editor,’ right?), and it comes with all kinds of perks – access to the shoe closet, outfits from the fashion closet, and even the occasional attempt at some creative work for her not-so-easy-to-please boss, Ruth. But there’s trouble brewing around the promotion department of the magazine – it just seems like everything Chloe does draws a crowd, and not everyone is a big fan of hers…

Why you should read this book: Clear out a slot on your bookcase for Chloe Rose, a hilariously naïve character in pursuit of happiness and/or a darling pair of Kate Spade shoes (regardless of whether or not they’re the exact right size, of course). Chloe can’t seem to hold anything in, and it makes for a lot of fun. She cheerfully confesses all of life’s secrets to the janitor, invites her grumpy boss to lunch when she’s convinced that they’re bonding, and when nothing seems quite right, she tells huge lies that haven’t been thought through very well – all in the name of cheering someone up, of course. The other characters, like Chloe’s no-nonsense, political activist sister Zoe, and Chloe’s insecure-but-power-tripping boss Ruth, perfectly play off of She’s Got Issues‘ obliviously optimistic heroine. Even when Chloe is being completely off-the-wall, there’s always a grain of truth in her actions that keep things funny – expect to laugh out loud thoughout She’s Got Issues.

Why you should avoid this book: If you like your fictional characters world-weary and cynical, Chloe’s over-the-top cheerfulness might push you over the edge if you can’t see the humour in it – it’s almost the written equivalent of slapstick comedy (though more Will & Grace-style than the pie-in-the-face routines). Pretty standard in terms of chick-lit plotlines, but it is executed better than most books in the genre.

Opening paragraph:

I can’t take my eyes off of it. It’s everything I would want to be…if I were a sign.

Issues Magazine
1026 Madison Avenue
New York, New York, 60793

I slowly trace my finger over each perfect word, until I feel a little shiver on the back of my neck. I’d know this lettering anywhere. It’s Coronet, the ultimate in vintage-chic fonts. The sign reminds me of that time my mom took me to see Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face at the Paris Theater when I was seven years old. I didn’t really want to go at first. I knew it wasn’t a cartoon, even though they tried to trick everyone with that name, but I figured, what the hell; I had no other plans and my mom let me bring a pocketbook. I had no idea that I was destined to walk out of that movie theater with the answer to the most puzzling of all life’s questions. For the first time in seven years, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Fabulous quotes:

‘I’m glad that we’re clear on that, Chloe. I don’t tolerate any kind of resistance in my department. We are all working for a common goal, and we all have to pitch in. Everyone starts at the bottom. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.’
‘Thank you, I agree,’ I say, noting to myself that Ruth probably needs to reevaluate all of her hemlines. So far I’ve only seen two of her skirts, but they are both too short. I can understand why she chose red tights to carry through the whole red theme, but I’m so not getting the saddle shoes. Wait a minute. I got it. She’s dressed up like a cheerleader! Why didn’t I see that before? I guess she’s just feeling perky today. There’s nothing wrong with feeling perky. It’s not like she’s acting childish. Maybe she just needed a little lift when she got dressed this morning. Who doesn’t need a lift every now and then? I know just how she feels. I’m in the same kind of mood.
‘Ruth,’ I say, ‘how would you like to go out to lunch, just you and me?’
Ruth looks at me for a long time without speaking. I really think I surprised her.

‘Now? Are you kidding? I just got up. What do you think I am? Some kind of materialistic glutton who can only be cheered up by purchasing meaningless, useless objects?’
‘Yes, I do think that. I think that you just described yourself perfectly. It’s a good thing Zoe’s moving out. You’re starting to think too much. So where do you want to go? Barney’s?’
‘No, I’m not really in a Barney’s mood. I almost bought another one of those little leather purses with the little people embroidered on them, so I’m trying to stay away from that whole part of town for a few days.’
‘You couldn’t possibly want another one of those purses. They don’t even open all the way,’ she says.
‘I know, but I love them, and each one is a little different. But don’t worry about it too much. My credit card was declined, so instead I ended up with a handmade key chain that doesn’t hold keys, and I paid for it with cash,’ I say, reassuringly.

Also recommended: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella; Shopaholic & Sister by Sophie Kinsella; Divas Las Vegas by Belinda Jones; The Big Love by Sarah Dunn.

Also by this author: Miss Understanding.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Click here for Book Brothel’s interview with Stephanie Lessing.

Would I read more by this author? Definitely! I can’t wait until Miss Understanding is out.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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