Despite having trouble paying her bills, Tina Fontana takes pride in her work and has the utmost respect for her boss Robert Barlow, the head of the Titan Corporation, a multimedia news conglomerate. Think Ted Turner meets Rupert Murdoch. So when an accounting error leaves Tina with an unearned check for $20,000 (almost the exact amount of her student loan balance) she feels guilty about deciding to keep it. Executives at Titan spend more than $20,000 on lunches, and cab rides, and tropical fish. It’s just pocket change for Robert, she justifies. Why shouldn’t she get a little taste of financial freedom?
But then Emily, another assistant, uncovers Tina’s accidental crime. She has student debt, too and wants Tina’s help to pay it off. Then, another assistant comes along. And another. And another. Soon, Tina’s ethical misstep turns into a fully-fledged movement, stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
I thought I saw the ending coming, but a slight twist on my expectations made the story richer, revealing broke Tina and rich Robert to both be real human beings, neither a hero nor a villain. In a time when income inequality is so prevalent in the public consciousness, The Assistants has a lot to say to the disenfranchised about taking back power. Plus, it’s a great read, moving at a breakneck pace. It’s the perfect book for the Bernie Sanders crowd.