The assistant trope is not a new one, with television shows such as The Office and popular movies such as Set It Up using them as plot points. As evidenced by its title, The Assistants by Camille Perri is a novel that utilizes this trope, but also throws in a very current issue- student loans.

Tina Fontana is the 30-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the high-powered CEO of Titan Corporation in New York City. For the past six years, she’s immersed herself in her job of scheduling Robert’s meetings, business travel and other excursions. When a discrepancy in the expense reporting causes a check for thousands of dollars to land on her desk, she debates whether to use it to pay off her student loans. What follows is a series of adventures that leads to major changes in both Tina’s professional and personal life.

Having worked in an office myself, I could relate to the actions of scheduling, expense reporting, and other similar tasks. The fact that Tina has been in the same position for most of her twenties reflects on how difficult it can be to climb the ladder to success, or how some people can be content staying where they are. 

What made the plot unique was its take on student loans. According to Forbes, the average college graduate owes over $28,000. Instead of using the money for material items, Tina pays off her student loans, and is overwhelmed by the feeling of freedom. I’m not saying that this action is right since she did commit fraud, but the events that follow introduce the interesting concept of a nonprofit focused on helping people pay off their student loans. As someone who owes a good amount, I couldn’t help but wonder what the feeling of having no debt is like. 

The Assistants is a nice, quick read that explores the world of office assistants, student loan debt and life in the big city.

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