At first glance, “Sad Desk Salad” by Jessica Grose might seem to be yet another “twenty-something trying to make her way in the Big Apple” story. But, in addition to the typical relationship/job dramas, the book also takes a look at more serious matters like media scandals and journalistic integrity.
The novel follows Alex, a young New York writer working for a gossip site called “Chick Habits.” She always dreamed about reporting on serious issues, but as one of the chickies, she’s trapped to her laptop and phone 24/7 in pursuit of the latest dirt; if a starlet ends up in rehab and Alex misses it because she’s in the shower, she could get fired. Her only escape from the apartment is to grab a ‘sad desk salad’ for lunch at the local bodega. After wearing the same gross mumu for weeks and fighting constantly with her boyfriend, she finally gets the scoop of a lifetime.
An anonymous email arrives with a video attached: Becky West, the 20-year-old daughter of a controversial parenting figure running for political office, is shown doing drugs and taking off her clothes. Posting the video could ruin Becky’s life, but would definitely boost Alex’s required page views, keeping her job safe. When the video goes viral, suddenly Alex is receiving death threats and her boyfriend isn’t speaking to her. Eventually she’s forced to take a hard look at her choices and whether her job is worth risking everything.
Grose’s debut features engaging, funny writing and although at times Alex makes some questionable decisions, the characters in “Sad Desk Salad” are relatable to anyone who’s struggled with building a career and life outside of college.