Sometimes, when scary newsfeeds full of doom and gloom are all we're looking at, distractions are necessary. I find that Netflix, stress baking, and wine work wonders for me, but reading a good book is the best way to take my mind off of my anxiety. The Herd, Andrea Bartz's newest novel, fits the bill and swept me away to another place. Specifically, that place is "The Herd," a fictionalized version of The Wing, which we all know as the holy grail for female empowerment and mentorship.
The Herd follows sisters Katie and Hana Bradley, who co-narrate the story. Katie, freshly re-planted in New York City after taking care of her sick mother in Michigan, is looking to capitalize on her friendship with The Herd's founder, the impossibly glamorous and self-assured Eleanor Walsh, and Hana's position as the company's publicist, in order to gain a coveted spot in the club. After research on a non-fiction book she signed on to write goes south, Katie sets her sights on writing an exposé on the secretive Eleanor, unbeknownst to the others in Eleanor's inner circle.
Eleanor, Hana and Mikki (the Herd's graphic designer) attended Harvard together and appear to live charmed, Instagram-worthy lives in the most glamorous, millennial pink-painted/palm frond-wallpapered/succulent-filled setting on earth. The drama begins on the night of an anticipated news conference, where Eleanor is scheduled to make an announcement that will totally shape the future of The Herd. The cameras and reporters arrive and Eleanor is no where to be found. She's disappeared.
Katie and Hana separately (and secretly) jump into investigation-mode, working overtime to figure out what happened to their friend, and calling the loyalty of everyone in Eleanor's inner circle into question. Men's rights groups who have threatened Eleanor in the past, online Herd-haters, and Eleanor's own marriage are put center stage as the investigation continues.
If I were taking a tropical vacation this summer (wishful thinking, I know), The Herd would be at the top of my beach book pile. It's a satisfying thriller, full of twists and turns, and is definitely a distraction-worthy binge read. It explores the frailty of the impossibly perfect veneer of high-living "Wing women," and what happens when things fall apart.
I read a really good article about The Wing recently, and I thought about it a lot while reading The Herd. It's called The Wing is a Women's Utopia. Unless You Work There, and it exposes some of the not-so-pretty inner-workings of the company, including rampant discrimination, member entitlement and high turnover. Bartz wrote the book before this article was published, but I wonder how she feels about the relevance of the article to The Herd. Nothing can ever be as perfect as it looks on Instagram, and The Wing is no exception.
I hope you all have a happy weekend filled with fun distractions, including reading!