THE NEAREST EXIT MAY BE BEHIND YOU
By Amulya Malladi
THE NEAREST EXIT MAY BE BEHIND YOU is “Up in the Air” meets “9 to 5” for the Pantsuit Nation.
Asmi knows that CPH (Copenhagen, Denmark) is the best airport to shop for clothes, and ATH (Athens, Greece) the best for shoes. The best Zara store is in BCN (Barcelona, Spain). The best airport to buy whiskey at is ARN (Stockholm, Sweden). And LHR (London, Heathrow) and CDG (Charles de Gaulle, Paris) should be avoided for a layover. Airplanes, airports and hotel lobby bars make Asmi feel just as much at home as her apartment in Laguna Beach does.
A marketing director in a biotech company, Asmi rose through the corporate ranks and never really took the time to think about couple-hood. She has good friends, a terrific sister who lives close by, and a married on-again, off-again lover in Paris she sees while she travels around the world for work.
As Asmi reaches the big 4-0 and contemplates making some life choices; her boss announces he is retiring, and she is suddenly thrown into a corporate Hunger Games against her nemesis Scott Beauregard III to win a promotion.
Worried that her inability to commit to a real relationship with a man is a personality flaw and afraid that she’s unqualified for the job she desperately wants, Asmi must learn to lean in to have the career and life she wants and deserves, without worrying about what society expects from her.
For women who read and learnt from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and any woman on her own journey towards leaning in, this is a “lean in” story of a career woman who finds the will to lead.
Buy it here: Amazon
Once upon a time, I was Asmi – single, hyper-focused on her career, racking up air miles and hotel points, expert on ranking airlines and airports. I even had the same titles: Director and Vice-President. The main difference is that I earned my title at age 29, the only female and the youngest to hold it, alongside three male peers over a decade older than me. In some ways, I can relate with the main character and her career successes and woes, in many, not so much. Mine happened in the Philippines, a different culture, different environment than Asmi’s GTech here in the US. Still, I found myself riveted by Asmi’s story and enjoyed Ms. Malladi’s telling of it. I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to the situations described in this women’s fiction/career coaching hybrid of a novel.
I appreciate Asmi’s growth throughout the book, although I got frustrated with her many times on her decisions and internal doubts, but I’ve accepted those as part of her character development. What I really love about the book is the strong female support — from Asmi’s sister Ananya, her friend Cara, a sort of mentor in Isadora, and the associates who prefer her to her competition for the position: Scott. This doesn’t mean it was all male-bashing. There are plenty of rational male voices in the story to balance things out, including a stranger at the airport and the main love interest Levi. I also love the multicultural cast of characters. I would have preferred a Southeast Asian to hold the regional role in that part of the world, but I understand the choice of a South Asian from personal experience. In the two companies I worked for in Singapore, both of my former bosses were Indian men.
This is a great read for women in the corporate world who can benefit from the many uplifting messages like silencing your inner critic and believing in your worth and, especially, from the career coaching part of the book. I personally prefer the fiction part, but I have to admit that the excerpts enhanced the storytelling.
I’m giving this four stars because of the excellent quality of writing. I deducted a star because I thought the dropping of brand names and alcohol intake were excessive and the overbearing mother lacked redeeming qualities.
Amulya Malladi is the bestselling author of seven novels, including The Copenhagen Affair and A House for Happy Mothers. She knows airports well because she works as a marketing and communication executive for a large global company. After fourteen years of mostly bad weather in Denmark, she moved to Southern California where she now lives in sunshine with her husband and two sons. The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You is her eighth novel.
PRAISE FOR THE NEAREST EXIT MAY BE BEHIND YOU
And Then She Said Press | 2017
“Every woman will be able to relate to the trials and tribulations that Asmi endures in the workplace as she struggles to climb the corporate ladder in this smart, witty novel. A true gem of a book.”
— Deanna Lynn Sletten, Author of Maggie’s Turn
PRAISE FOR THE COPENHAGEN AFFAIR
Lake Union Publishing | 2017
“A sharp comedy of manners and mental illness.”
—New York Post
PRAISE FOR A HOUSE FOR HAPPY MOTHERS
Lake Union Publishing | 2016
“Malladi examines India’s surrogacy industry with honesty and grace. This thought-provoking novel will be a sure hit with book groups.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
PRAISE FOR THE MANGO SEASON
Ballantine Books | 2003
“The Mango Season touches on a very human conflict with delicacy and humor…filled with the small details and sensual evocations of life in India without neglecting the claustrophobic aspect of that life.”
—The Washington Times
PRAISE FOR A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Ballantine Books | 2002
“[Amulya Malladi] draws us into the novel with her characters, who are refreshingly free of stereotype…no mean achievement for a first-time novelist.”
—Los Angeles Times