...a funny and moving commentary on that point in a woman’s life when everything seems to come into question ... Anyone who’s ever worked in an office inundated with phoniness, passive aggression and a communication style heavy on duplicity will get a kick out of Winter’s sendup ... Even the heaviest scenes of financial angst and other tensions go down easily because of the novel’s short, brisk chapters. So does Winter’s writing style, which is full of tightly packed sentences that build on themselves, often ending in a kicker.
On the face of it, Break in Case of Emergency is Bridget Jones-adjacent. You could call it 'Girls, for women' if you were being unkind ... Against all statistical odds, however, Winter’s novel is extremely good, because it is so well written ... Winter lampoons the bourgeois Manhattanites who spend entire careers appropriating social justice movements for branding purposes and nothing else. There are a lot of them out there, and Winter captures their self-regarding bullshit with remarkable precision ... Break in Case of Emergency is a high-quality tribute to ordinary experience, which makes it an extraordinary debut.
The plot is meandering and episodic, with some vibrant scene work — who doesn’t love a good meltdown at a fancy office party? — that doesn’t quite save it from slipping into tedium at times. Break in Case of Emergency is a comic novel with a strong dose of pointed satire, but some labored writing blunts a lot of the humor, just as it bogs down the pace. Even so, I found myself caring about Jen, turning the pages to see if she’d ever snap, or at least stand up for herself.
Though Winter’s book is billed as a satire, it barely contains any exaggeration, which can be mildly disorienting; sometimes it’s unclear whether we’re confronting a caricature or a portrait...[her] sharp perceptions and fluent prose are so much fun to experience that you might forget to wonder what her aim is in rendering the micro-details of this unpleasant, hollow-souled milieu ... Winter’s book stands out, though, by making the stakes of Jen’s struggle to emerge triumphant from her stint at LIft so viscerally high.
But beneath all this chatter lies Winter’s complex and intelligent examination of women’s lives, privilege and power, and friendship ... Sometimes the more emotionally charged moments and Jen’s psychological terrain seem eclipsed by the book’s satirical agenda, which often veers close to slapstick — a difficult balance indeed. But there is synergy between content and form.