This Could Hurt: A Novel (Paperback)
January 2018 Indie Next List
“Who knew that a novel about a faltering company's HR department could be so gripping and compassionate? Anyone who has worked in a company with other people will appreciate the resentments, friendships, and competitions that develop in a long-time team. Medoff does a great job of making the reader care about each and every character.”
— Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY
“Periodically a writer captures the pattern of comedy and tragedy that peppers office life like alternating colors of carpet squares. . . . As smart as Medoff’s critique of corporate inanity is, it’s tempered by compassion for these people, who are ultimately tender with each other, too. . . . Medoff finds plenty of hurt—but strains of hope, too.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
A razor-sharp and deeply felt novel that illuminates the pivotal role of work in our lives—a riveting fusion of The Nest, Up in the Air, and Then We Came to the End that captures the emotional complexities of five HR colleagues trying to balance ambition, hope, and fear as their small company is buffeted by economic forces that threaten to upend them.
Rosa Guerrero beat the odds as she rose to the top of the corporate world. An attractive woman of a certain age, the longtime chief of human resources at Ellery Consumer Research is still a formidable presence, even if her most vital days are behind her. A leader who wields power with grace and discretion, she has earned the devotion and loyalty of her staff. No one admires Rosa more than her doting lieutenant Leo Smalls, a benefits vice president whose whole world is Ellery.
While Rosa is consumed with trying to address the needs of her staff within the ever-constricting limits of the company’s bottom line, her associate director, Rob Hirsch, a middle-aged, happily married father of two, finds himself drawing closer to his "work wife," Lucy Bender, an enterprising single woman searching for something—a romance, a promotion—to fill the vacuum in her personal life. For Kenny Verville, a senior manager with an MBA, Ellery is a temporary stepping-stone to bigger and better places—that is, if his high-powered wife has her way.
Compelling, flawed, and heartbreakingly human, these men and women scheme, fall in and out of love, and nurture dreams big and small. As their individual circumstances shift, one thing remains constant—Rosa, the sun around whom they all orbit. When her world begins to crumble, the implications for everyone are profound, and Leo, Rob, Lucy, and Kenny find themselves changed in ways beyond their reckoning.
Jillian Medoff explores the inner workings of an American company in all its brilliant, insane, comforting, and terrifying glory. Authentic, razor-sharp, and achingly funny, This Could Hurt is a novel about work, loneliness, love, and loyalty; about sudden reversals and unexpected windfalls; a novel about life.
About the Author
Jillian Medoff is the author of the national bestseller I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE, as well as the novels GOOD GIRLS GONE BAD and HUNGER POINT. A former fellow at MacDowell, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA, and Fundación Valparaiso, she has an MFA from NYU. In addition to writing fiction, Jillian has a long career in management consulting and is currently a Senior Consultant at the Segal Group, where she advises clients on all aspects of the employee experience.
“This smart, jaunty novel takes the lid off a small company’s faltering human resources department to reveal intrigue and backstabbing that only intensify when the boss gets sick. But, as Medoff deftly reminds us, decency can find a way of surfacing even among the filing cabinets.”
“Uplifting and hilarious.”
— Real Simple
“A smart, sympathetic dramedy. . . . It’s like a New York novelization of The Office—with less winky, fourth wall-breaking satire and more heart.”
— Entertainment Weekly, “Best New Books”
“A sweet, sharp, funny tale.”
“[A] smart novel of corporate life.”
“Medoff delves into the working and personal lives of those who work for Rosa and creates layered characters rather than clichés. . . . This Could Hurt is a very enjoyable read and Medoff moves between the characters and their stories seamlessly. If there is a silver lining within the financial crisis, This Could Hurt might be it.”
— The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
“A delicious, satisfying book. . . . This Could Hurt is a worthy follow-up to Medoff’s bestseller I Couldn’t Love You More. Filled with heart and humor, it will ring true to anyone who’s experienced both the cruelty and the camaraderie that make up the modern American workplace.”
“Set within the cogs of corporate America, This Could Hurt tells the story of five colleagues struggling with professional tumult, uncertainty, and ambition. Jillian Medoff unfolds these characters’ daily lives, the hours spent at the office, with precision and a strong dose of humanity.”
— Southern Living
“Bitingly relatable and unexpectedly touching.”
— The Daily Break
“A thoroughly satisfying character study and exploration of the social microcosm that is the modern workplace. Medoff . . . is a master of the small, telling detail that completely nails a person’s psyche, delivering a cast of characters flawed yet struggling to redeem themselves. An ultimately hopeful, completely inventive tale.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Witty. . . . wry and ironic. . . . a sharp and moving read.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Incisive. . . .Medoff’s scenarios will be familiar to everyone employed everywhere, no matter the company size, and she cogently captures the angst and celebrates the camaraderie of coworkers committed to group success while struggling with personal demons.”
“Shrewd and deeply affecting. . . . Sharply drawn intimate details about the lives of each character add even greater depth and broaden the timeless appeal of this very smart, thoroughly absorbing story.”
— Shelf Awareness
“A penetrative novel about how work—even the work we might resent or despise at times—forges strange and wonderful relationships and forces difficult choices.”
“Corporate America has been trying to stamp out individuality for decades but Jillian Medoff brings it back to fresh, sexy, sharply funny life again. This Could Hurt is a missive to everyone who feels stranded in an office: You are not alone.”
— Katherine Heiny, author of Standard Deviation
“Clear your Outlook calendar and have tissues at the ready for this huge-hearted page turner that reaffirms the healing power of plain old human kindness.”
— Courtney Maum, author of Touch and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You
“You wouldn’t expect a corporate HR department to house a thrill-ride of a novel, but Jillian Medoff pulls off the impossible here. Funny, searing and wholly original, THIS COULD HURT illuminates an ordinary American workplace and the characters who animate it. With a sharp eye for the absurdities of modern office life, and even deeper compassion for her characters, Medoff knocks this one out of the park.”
— Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You and Half a Life
“Searing, sexy and surprisingly funny, Jillian Medoff’s This Could Hurt burns through the pages. No one is safe in this cruel but compassionate take on corporate America. I loved it.”
— Marcy Dermansky, author of The Red Car