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Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all.
When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer . . .
The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”
As a child:
What did your character want to be when they grew up?
Tina Fontana probably couldn’t decide what she wanted to be when she grew up, hence her professional stagnation as an adult. I imagine at around five years old she would have been an anxious little Kindergartner with a limited vision for her own potential. She would have chosen a dream job from her immediate worldview, like school bus driver or pizza flipper, or Wonder Woman.
What was something your character found funny?
Tina really likes to laugh and I think her sense of humor veers toward the dark, sarcastic, and mildly inappropriate. She’d find the current election cycle to be absolutely hilarious. Even as a child she would’ve recognized the outrageous dark comedy of Donald Trump. Staying up late every Saturday night to watch SNL would have aided her in this recognition.
What was your character's favorite TV show?
Tina loves television so much, it might be difficult for her to choose just one. Definitely any show with a strong female character, whether good or evil. She name checks a lot of TV shows in her narration of The Assistants, among them Mad Men, Golden Girls, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I imagine she would have grown up watching much of whatever her parents were watching, mostly likely reruns in syndication of late eighties/early nineties sagas like Dallas and Dynasty. This was not a family to have premium cable.
What was your character's favorite food?
This one’s a no-brainer. Hamburgers! Tina never met a hamburger she didn’t like.
Who was your character's celebrity crush?
Tina falls for Kevin because she’s a sucker for his JFK Jr. style all-Americanism, but there’s something sweet and approachable about Kevin, too, almost to the point of silliness. If we consider this to be Tina’s “type,” I’d guess she’d have a thing for someone like Justin Timberlake, Channing Tatum, or Zac Efron. As a kid, like everyone, she would have sold her soul for a kiss from Leonardo DiCaprio.
What was your character's favorite thing to do?
Tina’s favorite way to spend an evening is by ordering takeout from Seamless and binge-watching something on Netflix. This would have originated in her Bronx upbringing as an only child to working class immigrant parents. Her summers were not spent at sleep away camp; they were spent in front of the television with a bowl of sugar cereal.
Thanks to Camille for telling us more about Tina and to Putnam for sharing The Assistants with our readers.
The Assistants is part of BookSparks' Summer Reading Challenge 2016!
~Introduction by Melissa Amster
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