The Assistants is a delightful and fun debut novel by rising literary star Robin Lynn Williams. With uniquely well-defined characters, an interesting story, and smooth writing, The Assistants is a book you should definitely consider for your summer reading stack.
The Assistants tells a story about five assistants to various big shots in Hollywood. Michaela, Rachael, Jeb, Kecia, and Griffin. They work for various people of power including a manager, an A-list agent, an aging Hollywood actress, and a young rising star. Once a week these assistants meet at Trader Vick’s to discuss the pressures of caring for, or in some cases, carrying the people they work for.
As the pressures of being at the beck and call of the power players in Hollywood mount, we see how each character handles themselves and the cards that are dealt to them. Some are cynical, some are naive, and others just keeping going because it’s what pay the bills.
None of them enjoys being an assistant. They all have their own dreams of making it big. Michaela has dreams of being an actress, but every year passes with her chances of stardom shrinking while she finds herself still being an assistant. Jeb has dreams of writing, but sees no talent hacks getting ahead of him. As life chews them up and spits them all out they learn that sometimes the right path for you, and the path you are on are not one in the same.
The Assistants also opens a window into the idiosyncrasies of the rich and powerful. We see how one person likes their juice box squeezed out into a crystal goblet, and how another likes their magazines laid out not only Alphabetically, but according to preference. Reading The Assistants may only reaffirm your disdain for Hollywood.
As the paths of the characters cross we see that through the common life they lead, and the struggles they share, they form a bond. They say strength comes in numbers. It’s true because in the end each of them can only rely on themselves and each other to keep themselves sane.
The book does start a little slow. The characters and their oppressive bosses are quickly thrown out at you in a manner of the first five short chapters. For the first fifth of the book I was a little confused about exactly who was working for whom, and what the difference was between an agent and a manager was. But once the expositional chapters were out of the way the book became an enthralling tale that made me keep turning pages until the end.
They say to be a good writer you should write what you know. This story was something the author actually lived and knew a lot about. Just like her sweet naive character Rachel, Ms. Williams worked for 12 months as a personal assistant to a rich and powerful managing couple in Hollywood. With dreams of someday becoming a writer the only thing that got her through the long days of getting oxygenated water out of the fridge and running errands was the weekly cocktails and stories she shared with others in her profession.
A great well-written story, The Assistants will sure to connect with everyone in some way. Maybe you were an assistant yourself. Maybe you were one of the people who torment assistants. Maybe you just can’t stand those “Hollywood Elites”. Whatever it is you’ll find yourself laughing at the things people go through to live and work in Hollywood.
Four out of Five stars.
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