Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#SRC2015 - The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall

Genre: Chick-Lit
Published: April 28, 2015
Pages: 273
Ages: 16+ 
(Mild adult content)


The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and balance that will resonate deeply with all women who struggle with this hot-button issue.

Loyal assistant Lucy Cooper works for Katherine Whitney, who seems to have it all: a high-powered job at a multibillion-dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, a successful husband, and two adorable daughters. Now, with the release of her book on work-life balance, Katherine has become a media darling and a hero to working women everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and Lucy is the one holding it all together, causing her own life—and relationship with her boyfriend Nick—to suffer. When Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must decide whether to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her choice will affect the trajectory of both of their lives and lead to opportunities neither one could have imagined.


This is a story about women trying to have it all, a family, a career, and an active social life. It's told from the perspective of uber-balanced superwoman Katherine Whitney's assistant, who finds herself leading anything but a balanced life herself. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking that Lucy's life would be so much easier if she had the Wishful Thinking app from Kamy Wicoff's book. It just kind of shows how pervasive these issues are for women today.

The story is told in first person, giving us only Lucy's perspective on trying to find balance between her work life and her personal life, but we also see how she is an integral part of balancing Katherine's life. We have this idea that we can and need to achieve perfection in everything all on our own, but we see even in this story that it's just not possible. But that doesn't mean we can't strike a balance between our business and personal lives that is still fulfilling.

Lucy is supposed to be a likable character, and she is, kind of, but I was not particularly fond of her characterization. She's a timid doormat for most of the story, but she's also naive and completely oblivious to the fraud that she is facilitating. When other women tell her just how impossible the balanced life her boss is touting really is to achieve, she seems utterly clueless, even though she has all the insider info on what it takes for Katherine to make it work in the first place. I understand that her job is kind of dependent on the fraud, but believing it in spite of the mountains of evidence against it just doesn't sit well with me. 

Overall I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars because it was largely entertaining and mostly structurally sound (although there were a couple of glaring errors), but aside from my distaste for Lucy's characterization there was just something else about the book that felt off to me. I just can't put my finger on what it was. I would still recommend this book to fans of books like Sex in the City and Wishful Thinking. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Originally from Los Angeles, Susie Orman Schnall graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Schnall has written for national and local publications about parenting and health. She lives in New York with her husband and their three young boys. Visit www.susieschnall.com.

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