by Sarah Rose Etter
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Pub Date 11 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 11 Jul 2023
A year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley start-up, Cassie finds herself trapped in a corporate nightmare. Between the long hours, toxic bosses, and unethical projects, she also struggles to reconcile the glittering promise of a city where obscene wealth lives alongside abject poverty and suffering. Ivy League grads complain about the snack selection from a conference room with a view of unhoused people bathing in the bay. Start-up burnouts leap into the paths of commuter trains, and men literally set themselves on fire in the streets.
Though isolated, Cassie is never alone. From her earliest memory, a miniature black hole has been her constant companion. It feeds on her depression and anxiety, growing or shrinking in relation to her distress. The black hole watches, but it also waits. Its relentless pull draws Cassie ever closer as the world around her unravels.
When she ends up unexpectedly pregnant at the same time her CEO’s demands cross into illegal territory, Cassie must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are really worth it. Sharp but vulnerable, unsettling yet darkly comic, Ripeportrays one millennial woman’s journey through our late-capitalist hellscape and offers a brilliantly incisive look at the absurdities of modern life.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 79 members
go and immediately put this on your 2023 TBR & then come back to read the rest of this.
holy moly. I was stoked when I got the approval for this on net galley so thanks much to @scribnerbooks for blessing me with this. so beautifully written & I couldn’t put it down.
a story of a woman with a black hole that’s followed her as long as she can remember . always lurking there and reacting.
and that same woman working a soul sucking, corporate job in Silicon Valley (in early 2020 although that’s not stated outright).
just the general format is something I haven’t seen before - the definitions, personal reflection and then real time plot. it was so well thought out & you can tell that on first read.
there are so many little details weaved throughout and I can’t even begin to describe them because the novel has blown my mind👩🍳💋
I don’t do this often with galley reads but I cannot wait to own a hard copy of this and tuck it right on my shelf next to Moshfegh and Rooney.
pub date: July 11, 2023 (write that down)
Wow. This was such a beautiful and powerful novel. "Ripe" completely took me by surprise. Of course, I was intrigued by the gorgeous, vivid cover art, but this book just took my breath away. The tone of this book is perfection. It's haunting, eerie, depressing, unsettling, and deeply profound. The whole "black hole" allegory was so dead-on. The writing was stunning. Sarah Rose Etter has a way with words. I deeply cared about Cassie. I just wanted to give her a big hug. It's amazing how far are minds and bodies are pushed to the limits when in the throes of stress and workplace pressure. I will definitely be thinking about this novel for a long time. Exquisite storytelling.
Thank you, Netgalley and Scribner for the digital ARC.
I agree with Sarah… this one is a banger for sure!
Thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher for early access to this book in exchange for an honest review.
Such a unique take on a young woman’s experiences living life in the tech industry while trying to make sense of the wealth disparities surrounding her.
Cassie thought she had landed her dream job with a new startup in Silicon Valley. Not everything is what it seems, though. From her observations of her out-of-touch coworkers complaining about the exotic fruit selection at meetings to the homeless man living below her window, she begins questioning the meaning of existence and where she fits into it all. Add in a strange “black hole” that seems always to be lingering around, feeding off of her anxieties, and you have one strange yet enticing novel.
While I enjoyed the premise, the main character was the star of the show. I especially enjoyed Cassie’s unusual way of looking at things. With her dry wit and somewhat disgusting observations, she is definitely a character I won’t forget; a true standout.
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for an unusual and entertaining novel.
The publisher provided ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
• My initial interest in this book was very much a “judge a book by its cover” moment. The cover is striking and immediately caught my interest.
• Stunning cover aside, this book was a quick and thought-provoking read. It was written in a way that simultaneously exemplifies Cassie’s feelings of emptiness while being engaging and bold in its prose. The unique format of the book focuses on Cassie’s actionable present and past yet the ever-present black hole is constantly signaling how she feels at any given moment; it is beautiful, sad, and uncomfortable all at once. RIPE is already getting a lot of well-deserved buzz and will certainly be enjoyed by readers of Emily R. Austin, Mona Awad, & Melissa Broder.
Sarah Rose Etter has done it again! RIPE is a delicious and dark dive into tech culture that has so much else on its mind, from motherhood and gentrification to intimacy and the pandemic, while also grappling still with interesting questions on ethics/morality. Not to mention the black hole that Cassie was born tethered to, and which only she can see (rest assured, Etter is working in a similar vein to THE BOOK OF X).
Cassie is one year into a stint at a large tech company. The tech company is looking to gut a competitor---this is the thread I found to be most interesting, how Cassie becomes the mastermind of her employer's offensive. At the same time, Cassie has discovered she's pregnant, the father being someone not exactly available. The pandemic, naturally, is also looming.
Anyway, I loved RIPE. It felt more accessible than THE BOOK OF X, or perhaps at least made more for a commercial audience---in some ways, it felt like an improvement or growth. I can't wait to see what Etter does next!
Thanks to the publisher for the e-galley!
This was amazing. It was FAR too relatable. The writing reminded me of my bestie Kate and the things we tell each other about work. However, we are in the public sector so it is evil but not like this. The abusive bosses, the fake selves, and the black hole are so relatable.
This also reaffirmed my desire not to ever work in tech despite my education in it. No thanks. I want to have a soul and not let my fake self drive everything.
The end was gorgeous.
I reccomend this to everyone.
The deal: Cassie is trapped in a Silicon Valley hell job. She is also followed everywhere by a literal black hole. (I got an ARC from NetGalley.)
Is it worth it?: This was a banger. At first, I was apprehensive about Etter’s dictionary-definition framing device, which would have felt gimmicky if the writing wasn’t so damn good. This book explores quite a bit — capitalism, family, womanhood, trauma, class, mommy issues, magical realism — all at once and manages to succeed in most of it. In short, if you interact with Silicon Valley even a smidge in your job (and feel not great about that fact), it’s worth exploring.
Pairs well with: Self Care by Leigh Stein, NSFW by Isabel Kaplan (presumably — I haven’t read), Devs on Hulu, Severance on Apple TV+
RIPE follows cassie, a young woman one year deep into her “dream” tech job in silicon valley. this new path she originally welcomed as an escape from her hopeless former life quickly rotted to reveal the scathing realities beneath — a soul-draining workplace in the middle of a city that juxtaposes extreme wealth and privilege alongside poverty and crises. cassie is stuck walking the tightrope—always teetering on the edge of losing the cutthroat job opportunity, struggling to make ends meet and keep her head above water, yet never fully in crises.
at least, that’s what she tells herself. a black hole (metaphorical? literal? we get the sense it is both) follows cassie around, shrinking and growing depending on her mood. the ever present foreboding of the black hole only compounds that of the world around her — a mysterious virus in the headlines, the deaths of other silicon valley workers unable to take the pressures any longer, the looming housing crisis.
when her employer’s demands finally cross a moral line, and when her body demands to be put first, cassie is forced to confront her unraveling life and truly consider if there is a different way to live.
reading this book felt dystopian, yet every fiction presented in the book mirrors our bleak reality — wealth inequality, a generation of burnout overworked and underpaid employees, a pandemic growing ever closer, living paycheck to paycheck. etter captured this dread with candor and creativity. her insights on modern life are dismal yet astute, and are matched with vulnerable and touching flashbacks of cassie’s past. i appreciated that RIPE didn’t feel like a millennial gimmick — it felt incisive and infused with sincerity and humanity.
RIPE was unexpectedly grave. i yearned for morsels of hope, and think some aspects of the text could have benefitted from even more exploration — the housing crisis, the homeless man outside her home, the deaths across the city, the new-hire noor — but also respect that many elements were left intentionally unresolved and suspended in this existential malaise. that is, after all, more realistic, isn’t it?
a compelling and compulsively readable millennial tragedy. if LAPVONA and SEVERANCE had a book-child in silicon valley, it’d be RIPE. i’m impressed by etter’s dexterity blending elements of surrealism, dread, philosophy, all expressed through the horrors of day-to-day capitalism.
this book is so unbelievably good, i genuinely loved every second of it (even tho it was incredibly bleak) and didn't want it to end. THANK u netgalley for the digital copy but laaawd am i getting my hands on a physical copy as soon as they're available !
this was such a wrenching, well-written reflection on the tech industry, mental illness, societal colapse, hustle culture and what it means to be a woman worn thin amidst it all. i knew i'd love it bc i loved 'book of x' but i have to say, i loved 'ripe' about 5x more. etter truly created a piece of art w/ this one.
A banger exploration of today’s landscape. Deeply beautiful and unsettling and I can’t wait to see what Etter does next.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of "Ripe" by Sarah Rose Etter.
"Ripe" read as a majestic work of literary fiction. While reading about Cassie's life was often stressful, it was a contemplative stress, relieved through Etter's gorgeous prose. The stunning cover image was what initially drew my attention; the theme certainly delivered, and was accentuated by the unexpected inclusion of the ever-changing black hole. Silicon Valley was discerned for what it truly is in a manner reminiscent of, but surpassing, Dave Eggers' "The Circle." Finally, props to Etter for her skillful mention of the "virus." I have read books that have done this wrong, but Cassie's intrigue at the virus' emergence felt authentic, not overdone.
Oh I was INTO THIS. I can't wait for all of the sad girl lit fic people to read this when it comes out. Ripe reminded me a lot of the book Severance, and I think in some ways this is what I wanted My Year of Rest Relaxation to be when I first went into that one.
This book gave me a lot of anxiety thinking about work (particularly while working a tech-related job), hustle culture, and societal expectations. It's not even a little subtle with its satire of those things and in its "black hole as a metaphor for depression and anxiety" device. But it's clever, I could not put it down, and I have a feeling I'll be thinking about this one for a while.
Ripe is another one of those books I wouldn't necessarily recommend to everyone, but it was absolutely for me. Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC to review! I have a feeling I'm going to want to get a physical copy when this comes out.
This book follows Cassie as she moves through her transplanted life in SF, working in the tech industry, and trying to stay afloat in a city with rent increases, wildfires, and a looming covid crisis,
It's a sharp, beautiful, and moving novel, dealing with start-ups, bad bosses, personal black holes, and the tech industry's soulless, capitalist environment. It's funny and bleak and hopeful all at once. I only wish there was more of it, because I could have kept reading it. I really wanted to spend more time with Cassie.
Thank you so much to NetGalley for the ARC!
absolute banger of a book--the metaphor of the black hole was apt and perceptive, without ever feeling kitschy or derivative. i hate to box this in to the slowly growing canon of "sad girl millennial corporate tragicomedy", but.....it belongs. i loved it, full stop.
Heart pounding thriller that left me on the edge of my seat. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. Definitely one of the best books this year.
This is sad girl lit at its finest. You won't be able to put this one down. It's a great one to get lost in!
How many books have you picked up with a blurb referencing "My Year of Rest and Relaxation"? For me, it's been many, and while I'm strongly against comparing every "sad girl" sub-genre book to Moshfegh and Rooney, you should know the comparison is not only fitting, but Sarah Rose Etter's "Ripe" transcends. Surreal and unsettling, "Ripe" unsubtly critiques the pipeline of capitalistic dream turned corporate hellscape.
In a sea of hustle culture yes-men nicknamed Believers, the new virus on the horizon is the least of Cassie's worries. A black hole representing her anxiety and depression has followed her to the promised land, she's barely getting by with her soul-sucking tech startup job, and a baby -- the size of a pomegranate seed -- is growing inside her.
I'm sure many of us millennials and zoomers see aspects of ourselves in Cassie, but every time she's greeted by the homeless man outside her window, we're reminded she's hardly the sole victim. With thought-provoking pomegranate metaphors throughout, "Ripe" paints an uncanny portrait of how capitalism's unethical, exploitative practices trickle down the ladder of society until we're all eventually enveloped by our own personal black holes.
I have a feeling this one is going to be big this year.
Ripe blew me away because Cassie felt like a real person who is just trying her best to feel something, be something, do something. That grounded, normal quality is often absent in the books that this is likely to be compared to (ahem, My Year of Rest and Relaxation), which are so often built around protagonists you'd run away from in real life.
Bonus points to any book that makes me scream internally: "Move back to Philadelphia! You'd be so much happier here!"
This is a brilliant book about the near-future where a virus threatens mankind but workers like Cassie in the Silicon Valley are more concerned with abiding by the corporate guidelines even though a "black hole" seems to follow her around. Clearly her anxiety, the hole manifests itself when she is on edge or worried about her future at Voyager where she is a corporate "cog" in the wheel and must do what her superiors want her to do. Friends are fleeting and boyfriend, the Chef has a girlfriend as well so that makes things complicated. It's a depressing read but oh so prescient that it's worth it going in!
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Ripe follows Cassie, a woman who has a “dream job” in tech in San Francisco. Her job is cutthroat and high pressure and no matter how hard she works there is always more expected of her. The pay isn’t as high as she hoped it’d be, and she’s always struggling financially. She’s in love with a man who will never love her back. She hates most of her friends and most of them hate her. She doesn’t get the support she needs from her family. She can’t get through her days without drugs and alcohol. Her depression (which manifests as a literal black hole, a detail that I loved) follows her wherever she goes. Basically she’s very very unhappy. There’s not really a plot outside of that. The reader just follows Cassie’s life as she tries to push through the pain that follows her throughout her daily life.
This book is great! Each chapter of Ripe begins with the definition of a word, and in the chapter that follows it becomes clear how that definition is relevant to Cassie’s story. The way Ripe is formatted isn’t wildly unique, but it is interesting, smart, and engaging. I personally thought that the satire was hilarious, but I know that it won’t be funny to everyone.
I used to want a demanding job that would consume my life. I thought that as long as it was in a field I loved living like that would make me happy. This isn’t unusual. A lot of us in our 20s and 30s have found ourselves falling into hustle culture. As it did for many people, 2020 made me think deeply about what’s important to me, and I realized that I no longer want that. I started to spend more time speaking to people in the same field I want to go into and I realized that the idea of missing out on my hobbies, my family, my friends, my restful nights of sleep, my weekends, and much more was, quite frankly, my worst nightmare. When I came very close to reaching that life I felt very similar to how Cassie does: like there was a black hole following me around that I felt I might step into at any moment. She knows that she’s in a position in life that she’s put herself in and she feels foolish for having done so. I’ve never been in a position that was as extreme as Cassie’s, but I get her. I understand her pain, and again, I think a lot of us in our 20s and 30s do.
In general I think this is the kind of book that readers will either love or hate, and as you can see I loved it. I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the “sad girl books,” but if you’ll have any serious issues with reading about mental illness you should stay away from this.
RIPE is astonishing: mean, sad, beautiful, funny. I finished it two weeks ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s wonderful to see labor written in this way; the authenticity of how much space and time work takes up in a person’s life is juxtaposed with the surreality of Cassie’s vision and surroundings, bringing the reader into a sort of liminal state where you can’t be sure if you’re dreaming. I will be telling everyone to read this book.
A ode to high functioning anxiety ridden sad girls everywhere. It brought memories of mine that were crystallized into existence from the dark cave that is my black hole. It spoke the inner workings of my mind and wrote them down in ink where I couldn’t hide.
This book is fantastic. I loved it so.
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