In The List, Karin Tanabe tells the story of Adrienne Brown, a woman who leaves her life in New York behind for the chance of a lifetime, a job at the Capitalist. In New York, Adrienne wrote for the magazine Town & Country, she was given free designer clothes and accessories, and encouraged to hae a life outside of work, but something always seemed to be missing. Politics. She loved politics, which is why, when Adrienne got the offer to work at the Capitalist, based in Washington, DC, she didn’t hesitate. The only thing she hesitates about is calling her parents and asking if she can move back home
As it turns out, working at the Capitalist, or the List as everyone calls it, isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Adrienne is assigned to the Style section, which is about as low as you can get. She gets zero respect from her coworkers. They keep their heads down as they pass by and have private conversations in front of Adrienne and the other Style girls, as if they don’t exist. Her job consists of chasing down celebrities at functions, trying to get quotes from them, or accidentally overhearing conversations and turning them into stories. She has to get up at five in the morning, six days a week (her only day off is Saturday), and she’s expected to write at least ten stories a day. If she takes even a second to breathe, her boss is down her throat about not being productive. Where is the fun in that?
One restless night, Adrienne decides to take a drive and stumbles onto what could be the biggest story the Capitalist has ever had…involving one of their employees and a powerful person in office. Adrienne becomes consumed with this, obsessive at times. She even enlists the help of the one person in the world who you wouldn’t expect.
The List, loosely based on Karin Tanabe’s experiences of working at Politico, is fast-paced and witty. Author Sarah Pekkanen describes it as “The Devil Wears Prada meets Capitol Hill,” and I couldn’t agree more. Adrienne thinks that working at the Capitalist is everything that she wanted, and in some ways it is. She learns to write (and think) faster, but she never truly fits in. She doesn’t dress the part of a reporter and she doesn’t completely think like one either. She sits on the story for so long trying to put all of the pieces together to make it perfect, that she almost loses everything. It is only after she is left in a motel room that Adrienne is able to gather all of her strength and finish the job. But even then is a story ever truly finished?
Karin Tanabe has crafted a great story that will grip you until long after the novel ends. A novel that is so gripping, that you can’t put it down, and one that you continue to think about weeks later, is the best that you can get. It also makes you wonder to what extent the truth meets fiction. It is, after all, based on the author’s own experiences. How much of it is fact and how much of it is a figment of Tanabe’s own imagination? The List is a must read for anyone who is looking to lose themselves in a story. It only took my three days to read, which says a lot and I personally cannot wait for her next book.