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White Collar Girl: A Novel by Renee Rosen
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White Collar Girl: A Novel

by Renee Rosen

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I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Jordan, the main protagonist of our story, is an aspiring journalist who aspires to write real hard-hitting stories and not the society pieces she’s assigned at the Chicago Tribune. She’s spunky, fearless, inquisitive, smart, and confident making her a very likable character, but she’s not without faults. Through working at the Tribune Jordan learns some very serious lessons about life and the rules of journalism.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about Jordan’s character is that even though she is mostly assigned fluff pieces from her start at the paper she always tries makes the best of it. She soon figures out that news is news, and no matter how trivial the story may be (to her) she always puts out her best work. This fuels Jordan’s desire to strive for the day she’ll have her own big front page story.

Through reading this novel readers will get to see the real life workings of a 1950s newspaper which has its own similarities and differences to today’s press. It was interesting to see the newspaper from a historical aspect, especially at a time where women didn’t prominently work at newspapers. Jordan has to keep her guard up because of the gender inequality that occurs in her workplace. She constantly deals with crass comments and men who think women can’t write. This only pushes Jordan to work even harder.

The pace of plot throughout the entire story is pretty smooth and not once did I ever feel bored while reading this book. There are elements of mystery of what goes on behind the politicians doors, the suspense that builds every time Jordan takes on a big news story, and the drama that occurs in the newsroom. All of these things combined kept me constantly entertained and I never wanted to put down the book. Every character shows development over time and most of them benefit from their transitions for good. Rosen also did an incredible job of mixing historical events with fiction and it shows that she did her research. Overall, I ended up learning a little more of Chicago’s history from what I previously knew. ( )
  Rlmoulde | Nov 25, 2017 |
WHITE COLLAR GIRL by Renee Rosen
Although not as good as Rosen’s earlier WHAT THE LADY WANTS, WHITE COLLAR GIRL tells an interesting and informative tale of what it was like to be a “professional girl” in the 1950’s working for the illustrious Chicago Tribune. Jordan Walsh, hired as a cub reporter under the assumption she was a male, is quickly relegated to the “women’s page”, society weddings and food stories. Her struggle to be taken seriously is the plot of this tale.
Jordan and the other reporters are well drawn characters. The working conditions and pay of the 1950’s are laid out clearly as is the politics in Chicago under the first Mayor Daley. Although occasionally dropping to the level of women’s romantic fiction, the book still offers a wise glimpse into the workings of a big city newspaper and the blatant discrimination against women in the work force.
4 of 5 stars ( )
  beckyhaase | May 6, 2017 |
Corrupt politicians, questions about what it means to be a journalist, and a young woman struggling to make a career for herself - this feels like a very contemporary story, not historical fiction set in the 1950s Chicago. Or perhaps, so little has changed since then and this is merely a reminder? Either way, this is a great, well-paced read featuring a determined lady journalist who wants to move from the cultural, ladies' stories (recipes & clothing advice) to the front-page stories. Good reading and with plenty of contemporary themes to make one wonder how much has changed between then and now. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Dec 16, 2016 |
I received a copy from First Reads in return for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

Depicting the hardships of being a working woman in the 50s while also showing the cutthroat ways of journalism, White Collar Girl explores many themes and portrays a relatable character in Jordan.

Jordan is a strong willed, independent, career-oriented woman whose dreams of making it in journalism are often undermined by society's view on women and the men in her life. She struggles to find people to take her and her work seriously, dealing with sexism not only in the workplace but also in her relationships. In a time when women were thought of as the lesser gender, Jordan's strengths and drive are seen as negatives, abrasive, and uncouth. Others encourage her to find a man, settle down, become a housewife....basically, become complacent and a doormat. But Jordan doesn't conform to societal norms and pressure and her persistence and fight are admirable.

Aside from Jordan's professional career, White Collar Girl focuses on her broken family, torn apart by the tragic death of her older brother, Elliot. Here Jordan also struggles to be seen, heard, and understood. Her parents (and even Jordan herself) immortalized Elliot, placing him on a pedestal and ceasing to live life. Jordan becomes the invisible daughter living in the shadows of her dead brother where no matter how she emulates him or ignores his ghostly presence, she just cannot seem to get that parental attention she yearns for.

Through all the hardships in Jordan's life, she comes out ahead in the end. Her hard work and dedication slowly, eventually, pay off in both her professional and familial life. Her investigatory skills and dedication create breaking news and provide a good rush and a bit of excitement to the novel. Her desire to restore her family is one of the main reasons why they slowly come around.

White Collar Girl brings the world of journalism in the 50s to life and I'd strongly recommend this book for historical fiction fans. ( )
  Kristymk18 | Mar 18, 2016 |
4.5 Stars

This book started out slow and irritating; I think a large part of that was due to how I viewed the main character in the beginning. However, things quickly picked up pace as I got to know Jordan and got sucked into her story. The book finished on a fantastic note.

Like I mentioned, at first, I had a hard time liking or sympathizing with Jordan. Her thirst for advancement and achievement came off as too eager and immature; she seemed to view the world through rose-colored glasses which seemed a bit unrealistic.

Yet, once I got drawn more and more into her story, I started to see the gutsy side of her, the courageous woman in her core that went to many lengths to get her story, regardless of the cost to her personally. Some of her calls might be in the gray area ethically when it comes to her personal relationships or the law. But one has to admire her tenacity in getting her facts right and her bravery in facing some truly scary opponents as she got her stories. At the end, I really ended up liking her.

The overall story just sucked me in. I’ve read other reviews that compare this story with Mad Men, and I have to agree with the comparison. Jordan’s struggle for respect in her field rings very similar to Peggy’s advancement struggle. There’s sexism in the workplace and the disrespect for a junior reporter on top of that. Watching Jordan as she slowly gains the respect of her colleagues, enough that they go to bat for her at the end during a personal struggle, was a treat to explore. She also has some very personal losses to go through, family deaths and some very black grief processes. Seeing her struggle with both aspects made for some great reading.

As I’ve experienced in this author’s previous work, her skills at setting and world-building stand right up there with the best. She makes the reader smell the ink and feel the rumbling of the floor as the presses start their work. The frenetic energy of the news room and the tense world of journalism really come to life here. The author also draws on real historical events to give Jordan events to report on and grow with. Corrupt Chicago politics, disasters, and scandals abound.

With a rocky start, this book quickly became tons better and drew me. I grew to love Jordan as a person and to watch her strive for respect and journalistic greatness. The author’s skill with background building didn’t hurt either. I’d definitely recommend this one to historical fiction lovers, especially those who love strong female leads and to explore areas not often written about in HF.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 14, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045147497X, Paperback)

The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition...

Every second of every day, something is happening. There’s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it’s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column.

Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley’s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan’s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there’s no guarantee she’ll remain above the fold.…

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 08 Aug 2015 22:02:41 -0400)

"The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition... Every second of every day, something is happening. There's a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it's 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column. Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley's office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan's every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there's no guarantee she'll remain above the fold..."--… (more)

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