When I first heard this title my interest was piqued because I thought it was about a young doctor. Shows where my preconceptions come from.
The character of Josie had me hooked from the first page, moaning over her tiny bust in thesaurus-like list of euphemisms. Academic, ambitious, but with the fashion sense of a dairy cow and a tendency to embarrass herself, she isn’t happy that her mandatory internship is with a fashion magazine rather than a ‘serious’ publication. Without any choice, though, she throws herself into the one-day-a-week job with help from her oh-so-cool younger sister, Kat, to make sure she looks the part. Kat, the fashionista, is envious:
In her world, my inability to use a curling iron meant
I didn’t deserve the intern position.
At the job she’s faced with two other interns and a challenge; the best intern at the end of twelve weeks will win their own column in the magazine, complete with by-line and headshot, plus five thousand dollars. Josie, her mum and her sister have been doing it tough since her dad left, and that five thousand would go a long way.
Josie is a heroine who is smart and capable, but suffers from all the fears and lack of confidence a ‘not cool’ young woman would endure when she’s thrust into a unfamiliar world. She’s determined to make the most of her opportunities, but sometimes doesn’t realise what’s going wrong until it’s too late. What’s important about Josie, though, is that she doesn’t give up. She goes back and gives it the best shot she has, and ultimately that’s what counts.
There are a cast of interesting characters around her, most notably her popular, self-absorbed younger sister, and James, the flatmate of her cousin, where she stays the night when she works at the magazine, as she lives too far out of the city to commute. James provides the love interest – with the added complication that he turns out to have a girlfriend.
Having been a writer for many girls/women magazines, Gabrielle Tozer obviously knows how they tick and provides a believable setting without giving approval or judgement. The staff of the magazine have the usual mix that occur in any workplace; the generous and kindhearted, the bitchy and brash, and gradations in between. In other words, they’re human.
Tozer’s prose is engaging and witty. The story is told in first person with Josie narrating, and her personality and humour do all the work. In an early conversation with James, she’s trying to think of an answer when he asks about her most humiliating childhood incident. She thinks, both with humour and poignancy,
My life was an ongoing series of humiliating incidents wrapped
in a box of shame and tied with a bow of awkwardness.
It’s an easy read, but that doesn’t mean its light on the emotions. If you’re a teenager starting to do new things, or you remember what it was like going out of your comfort zone, you’ll identify with this.
The Intern has a sequel, Faking It, which chronicles the further adventures of Josie, and Gabrielle will have a new contemporary book (not about Josie) out in 2017.
The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
Published: Feb 2014
Gabrielle Tozer’s website