In this fictional work, Alex recalls working in a Wall Street powerhouse: fighting her way to success, the difficulties of working as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and indulging in an office romance that goes sour. We meet Alex when she wakes up in the morning and gives herself a pep talk before heading over to her work at Cromwell Pierce, a Wall Street powerhouse. She is feeling stressed and looks it too because 2008 has been a hellish year for her.
She takes us back in time to see why it was so bad.
As a child, Alex always knew she would end up working in a male-dominated industry. She used to accompany her father to work sometimes where he had a job as a banker on Wall Street. A successful interview at Cromwell got her hired to work in their 2006 analyst program at the government bond desk in the fixed income division. She was enthusiastic to start out as an analyst and work her way up through the ranks.
Her boss, Ed Ciccone (nickname: Chick), is successful and intimidating. He tells her she must be in work before he gets there in the mornings at 6:30 without fail and that she must do personal errands for people on the floor. She also has to pass her exams in less than three months, but isn't allowed to make any trades.
She feels the stress of being thrown into the deep end and doesn't even have her own desk. She has to use a folding chair and when one of the guys makes a crude remark while hitting on her, she is surprised that Chick doesn't back her up.
She helps one of the guys, Drew, with a computer job and realizes how much she has to learn. She is committed though, working late every night.
Alex usually has to get lunch for the guys and during a trip to get pizzas she is helped out by a young guy called Will. They will end up dating.
When attending the firm's annual analyst boat cruise other freshmen at the company are present, with one teasing Alex for not having her own desk. She asks one of the guys in her office, Reese, about it and he calls the guy over to them. They find out this guy, Adam, had done a trade the week before and that he had had to stand up and scream that he was a large buyer of Cox. He says it without realizing the joke, making Alex see that he's not street smart at all. She learns from Reese that if she wants to be successful she will also have to pretend to like people she doesn't.
Alex passes her exams but still doesn't get a desk. She tries to work with a woman in the office called Kate (nickname: Cruella) but Drew and Reese tell her she really shouldn't because Kate is evil. She goes over to Kate anyway and asks if she can sit with her. Kate breaks her down, saying that she shouldn't be bothering anyone.
Will invites her out for drinks during which they learn more about each other's lives. She has fun and they decide to do it again soon.
When she gets a task to fetch coffees for the floor, she asks Will to accompany her. During the trip he informs her of the rating system the men use in the office to score women according to their looks. It annoys her.
The errands Alex has to run at times are really stressful and when she has to go out to get sushi she ends up falling flat on her face in the office building. Although she thinks no one saw her, she later gets an e-mail from Will who rates her as though she was in a sporting event. It seems there is no place to hide.
At the annual Christmas party, Chick gifts Alex with twenty grand of cash for passing her exams and adapting so well to her job. But the party doesn't end up going so well for her. She notices some of the guys making catcalls at one of the women and it offends her so much, she can't hide her annoyance. One of the guys notices and tells her to chill out. Infuriated, she insults him. At the office, she gets shouted at by Chick for her behaviour, even though she feels it was justified.
She continues working hard and putting in extra hours at the office, with the result that she doesn't have much time for anything else.
When Chick hears the full story about the guy at the Christmas party, he apologizes to Alex and invites her to go with them to take clients out for dinner. She is excited to be included but Kate tells her that she herself used to think she was asked out based on respect but it wasn't so. She adds that Alex should wise up to what is happening.
At the dinner, one of the big clients - an obnoxious guy called Rick - keeps flirting with her and invites her out. She politely declines. After the dinner, she goes out with Will and ends up at his house where she falls asleep. She wakes up horribly late the next morning and rushes to the office, fearing Chick is going to fire her.
As punishment, Chick tells her to buy a wheel of cheese from the Bronx with her own money - it comes to almost one thousand dollars. During the trip to get the cheese and make amends with Chick, Alex's mother calls her and is astonished to hear that her daughter is being sent on errands. She tells Alex to quit, but Alex refuses.
Alex doesn't feel she and Will are actually dating because she hardly sees him outside of work. Meanwhile, the guys on the floor do fun things at times, such as when one of them agrees to eat all the contents of the vending machine on a dare and ends up earning $28,000 for it.
When Rick keeps calling and texting her, Alex confides in her friend, Liv, about it. Liv tells her she should inform Chick, but Alex doesn't feel she can. There's also another secret she must keep from Chick: she and Will have started dating a bit more seriously and have to sneak around because inter-office romances are prohibited.
She does confide in Will about Rick, however, and he informs her that Rick and Kate used to date. She had been burned by him, which explains her hostility.
Chick invites Alex and Will to his kid's birthday party and there Alex meets Rick's wife! It's awkward being in her presence so Alex is relieved when Chick asks if she and Will would like to go see his wine cellar. In the cellar, Alex and Will kiss. To her horror, Rick arrives, saying that Will is needed outside but that he wants Alex to help him find a wine bottle. There, he invites her to dinner but she says it's not a good idea. He tells her that he's the client so she should be available to him via phone when he texts or calls.
Distracted by daydreaming about Will at work, she ends up answering a call from a trader who makes an offer. She goes along with it but makes a mess of the situation, which infuriates Chick and the client, and makes the desk lose almost $100,000! Kate adds insult to injury by telling her that because of her actions the company will not hire girls in future. She has made women in general look foolish.
Around Christmas the following year, Chick promotes Alex to associate. A new girl, Patty, arrives and Alex tries to help her out as much as possible, knowing what it's like to start out at the bottom. Patty asks Alex if Will is single because he's attractive, and she tells Patty that she is seeing him.
Rick is persistent, asking Alex out again. She declines, but he threatens her, saying that she shouldn't be disappointing Chick's clients as it could harm her career.
Will and Alex go out to dinner again and he says Rick is probably just hoping to have a fling with her because some women would be open to it. He says he wants to see her on her birthday, so she says she'll cancel plans she has with friends. However, at the end of the date he tells her he doesn't want to get serious. When her birthday rolls around, he stands her up.
Patty pulls Alex into the ladies' room at work and shows her the Boston newspaper - in it there's a piece on Will and his fiancée! It had been taken on the night of Alex's birthday. She is horrified.
When she ends up going to a bar to nurse her troubles, she meets a cute bartender called Matt. They chat to each other about their lives - she confides about Will and he tells her about his break-ups - and he says that he is going to become a chef. She is intrigued by this idea, later applying to a pastry school and paying money to sign up for it.
Alex keeps telling her he wants to talk to her about the pictures in the paper, but she refuses.
In the year 2008, the market implosion begins with powerhouses on Wall Street losing lots of money on trades and bonds defaulting.
Will gets to speak to Alex face to face and apologises. She tells him they'll never be friends.
Chick helps to make her feel better, telling her that she's the best thing to have happened to Will. He obviously had known about their relationship but kept it secret.
When she goes out with her friends for drinks, Alex bumps into Matt and realizes just how nice he is.
Feeling downtrodden and cynical about work, when Alex has to attend a college presentation in the hopes of recruiting students to Cromwell, she ends up telling them the truth about what it's like to work in the industry as a woman. She is shocked at the presentation and how it lies to the students, making everyone in the office look energetic and happy. She doesn't want these students to gain nothing but a glamorized idea of what the career is like.
Will tries to speak with her again and tells her he was confused, not knowing if he wanted Alex or his fiancée. He then confesses that he is not calling his wedding off because his fiancée's father is a CFO of a big firm. She realizes he is just sleeping his way to the top.
Keith (nickname Darth) shocks the floor by announcing that Chick has left and he will be taking over. Alex's heart drops when she hears that he wants her to take over with Rick, who was Chick's client.
She is forced to meet Rick and tries to ignore his flirtatious attempts. She makes it clear she only wants a professional relationship. The next day, he starts being rude to her and telling her that she has to pull through for him by getting him data he wants in time for a meeting he has in a few hours. She also has to pick up lunch. She fears what will happen to her now that Chick isn't at the office.
Darth calls a meeting with Alex and tells her that Rick isn't happy with the work she's doing with him. She doesn't say anything about what Rick has been doing, but instead tries to speak to Rick. He won't budge, saying that the only way out is if she quits her job.
Things get worse when Darth tells Alex that she and Rick are to go to a Bond Market Association Conference in Scottsdale. She tells him she doesn't want to go and confides that Rick wants a personal relationship with her. Darth doesn't take her seriously and that she's being too sensitive, even when she tells him how Rick has been texting her and inviting her to drinks. Darth is also upset about what happened at the college presentation. When she leaves Darth's office, Alex leaves her ID on his desk and walks out of the company.
Chick calls her and tells her he's proud of her for quitting and he offers her a job. But she doesn't take it. She says she is thinking of going back to school. He says that he is there to help her with anything she might need.
Best part of story, including ending:
It was well written and interesting. There are some surprises and twists that keep you interested.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Alex finally decides to quit on the spot. After enduring unfairness at work in the form of a client who is sexually harassing her and a boss who doesn't take her seriously, she decides it's time to take charge of her destiny.
Opinion about the main character:
Alex is a young, enthusiastic woman who ends up working on Wall Street and realizes that it's not as glamorous as it is made out to be. She undergoes a personal journey in which she decides to live her life in the truth instead of trying to cut herself down to size in order to be a financial success.