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The Floater

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Welcome to The Great Recession, when companies are laying people off left and right, and even Big Law isn't hiring anymore. At least there's no place at Robertson, Levine & Shemke for 46-year-old Norma Reyes, a recent graduate from an unremarkable fourth-tier law school. Short on luck and desperate for a job, Norma accepts RLS's offer to work as a "floater" (i.e., rotating secretary)—a title that conjures the distasteful image of something stubbornly bobbing in the toilet no matter how many times you flush. Though Norma's only trying to stay afloat until the economy improves and she can land a job as a lawyer, RLS's shallow, self-absorbed attorneys seem hell-bent on keeping this buoyant, middle-aged staff member down.

"The Floater is the Rocky of legal dramas. Attorney and protagonist Norma Reyes--hired as an overqualified secretarial floater and forced to battle long odds in a high powered law firm--is often beaten down but never knocked out. Gritty and necessarily graphic, The Floater is a well-written and spellbinding ride through Lilly Ledbetter-glass ceilings and racial barriers. Shocking, uplifting, and enlightening, The Floater is a dramatic tour de force." NY Times Bestselling author Ken Morris (author of Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin, Man in the Middle, Deadly Trade).”

344 pages, Paperback

First published August 4, 2012

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About the author

Sheryl Sorrentino

6 books88 followers
Sheryl Sorrentino is the author of six very different novels: Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz (which recounts a neglected twelve-year-old’s devastating pregnancy); An Unexpected Exile (a romantic ride with Risa Weinberg, a 29-year old Jewish fashion merchandiser who is relentlessly pursued by a charismatic and slightly "off-kilter" Sandinista rebel); The Floater (the story of 46-year-old Norma Reyes, who gets a rude awakening when her law degree leads her into a den of discrimination and betrayal); Stage Daughter (a page-turning exposé of single-motherhood, blended families, and religious intolerance endorsed by Compulsion Reads and winner of a Finalist slot in the Chick Lit/Women's Lit fiction category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards); Stop & Frisk (which tells the story of a strip club bouncer struggling for closure and kinship), and her latest, Smarter Than That (the story of a recent widow's calamitous foray into the world of online dating).

Through her gritty and provocative writing style, Sheryl Sorrentino has pioneered a culturally-inclusive women's fiction subgenre that's both sensual and socially significant. A practicing attorney by day, Sheryl Sorrentino writes Real Fiction for Real Women™. To learn more, visit her website at www.sherylsorrentino.com, follow her on Twitter (https://twitter. com/ SherylSorrentin); and "friend" her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sheryl.sorre...). And for a sampling of Sheryl's edgy and entertaining musings, check out her blog at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/...

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Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for Debbie "DJ".
350 reviews398 followers
August 7, 2014
I had a hard time with this read. In the beginning we meet Norma, a Hispanic woman who has taken the bar exam hoping to find permanent work with the law firm she has already spent numerous hours with as a summer intern. Once she applies for the job however, she is told the company has a hiring freeze on first year associates and can only hire her as a "floater"(i.e., rotating secretary). She soon discovers that ten first year associates have been hired, and this begins her search into the serious discrimination practices of this law firm.

I found the book very promising in this area, however, enter her personal life. First, she sleeps with her landlord Angelo. When this doesn't work out, she meets another man working in the same law firm as head of the copy room. She not only begins sleeping with him after three days, but discloses very personal facts about her life, including incest, in those three days. Really? Boundaries ladies? I knew I was in real trouble with statements such as " But even if her husband did have a wandering eye, at least Denise had managed to get married, a feat Norma had yet to accomplish. At forty-six, she suspected that her fiasco with Angelo had been her last chance at snagging a man, even if it would have meant settling for someone as substandard as him." or "Most times you sought out a particular man because he had the right "qualifications." "Husband material," they called it. You did the dating dance and went through all the stupid steps, only to wind up feeling dispassionate and ambivalent in the end. But if the man was "husband material," you married him - that is, if you were lucky enough to be asked (which Norma never had been ). Quick, where is the toilet so I can throw up! Are you kidding me? And someone who is intelligent enough to finish law school? I couldn't get past such statements as these, even if her fight to end the discriminatory practices at work were admirable. Maybe I'm not the target audience for a book such as this. Either way, I would hope that by now women do not need to degrade not only themselves, but men as well, by "snagging" a man. Yuck.
Profile Image for Debbie.
433 reviews2,744 followers
August 24, 2014
For me, a floater is an annoying dot, scurrying speedily around inside my eye, messing with my vision. Norma is a floater (a "roaming" secretary), speeding around a toxic office, and she, too, is annoying. Or maybe it’s the author who's annoying, because she’s trying to tell me Norma is believable, and I’m having trouble with that. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The book opens with Norma starting her job as a floater in a law firm. She expected to get a job as a lawyer, but because she’s a middle-aged Puerto Rican woman from a small college, there appeared to be discrimination and she didn’t get the job she deserved. The job as floater was the only option.

It just so happens that from day 1, every single guy in the office is a jerk who says horrible things to her. Immediately I put on the brakes. Wait! You want me to believe these guys are real? I’ve worked in lots of offices and not once did I meet any boss that was that outwardly shitty. Never. The scene just didn’t ring true. All of the bosses seemed like caricatures, and nasty ones at that.

Even though I didn’t buy the evil bosses, I did think Norma was believable. Until she wasn’t. She suddenly had a family crisis, and when her boss told her she couldn’t go attend to it, Norma obeyed and kept working. What?? No normal person would listen to their boss; they’d bolt out of there immediately. She chose not to leave work, with dire consequences. I need to skirt around the particulars because I don’t want to give anything away. Let’s just say it was a terrible decision.

I believe the author wants us to think Norma is a moral human being. If you really want me to believe she made that bad choice to stay at work—do I even want to be in the same office with her? No! Either she is an unbelievable character or I don’t like her, don’t respect her, and I want out of there.

To add to my complaint board, there is also the problem with language. It’s simple and stilted. In what probably was an effort to seem straightforward, the author overshot her mark and made the language boring; there is no style or flair to it at all. And the dialogue is particularly bumpy; at places, it just didn’t ring true.

Yes, indeed, it appears that my complaint board overfloweth. BUT: There are two wonderful things about this book: (1) Oscar and (2) the relationship between Oscar and Norma. Oscar is an excellent character. He is complex, likable, and patient and I thought he was the salt of the earth. The relationship between Norma and Oscar is well-drawn, and it’s touching, rich, and believable—even if Norma did annoy me when she poo-poo’ed Oscar in any way.

What did I notice about this reading experience? I don’t think I highlighted anything, which is always a bad sign. And although I hate books with a plethora of words that I have to look up, I’m always a little disappointed when a book doesn’t contain even one new word for me.

On the other hand, I REALLY looked forward to picking up this book and seeing what happened next. The pacing was good, and I cared enough to want to keep reading. That’s the final test, and it passed with flying colors. I give it a 3: I liked it, but I definitely had some problems with it.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,073 reviews547 followers
August 31, 2014
Many thanks to the author for her kind offer of a hard copy to read and review!

I just finished reading The Floater, and I enjoyed it immensely. I always looked forward to reading it, and that's always my sign of a good read. I liked Norma, a woman struggling with a very troubled upbringing, while facing blatant racial discrimination in her work place. I enjoyed the legal aspect and found it very thorough and informative. Norma had many many flaws to her character, but she was real, and although she made mistakes I knew why she did. The author is a Lawyer, and added a note at the end reflecting on a few issues in relation to law practices and her experiences. I like reading these at the end of the book, they add a little dimension at the end where I feel like it's been rounded off nicely with a few personal words from the person who just formed the story we spent many hours with. She also made mention about some of the sexual scenes possibly being offensive, but there is a reason for them and I don't see that they were over the top, they were all part of the journey of a woman who is sorting herself out. Norma makes her way through her troubles and faces her demons along the way. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,923 reviews35.4k followers
August 9, 2014
4.999999999 Enormously engaging on both an emotional and intellectual level. I read it without stopping. I loved it completely.

Sheryl Sorrentino created two compelling-unforgettable main characters: Norma & Oscar

Norma & Oscar are 'both' minorities who work for "Roberston, Levine & Shemke", Law Firm: "A throwback to another area" ....["Mad Men"].
RLS is a cut-throat-hostile work environment. Office tensions are high with infantile misbehavior in the workplace. Workaholics with mean streaks, gossip and 'gate-keeping' secrets. (inordinate amounts of stress each day).

Norma, is the overqualified law student --hired as a 'Floater' secretary -- (where floaters come a dime a dozen). She takes the job during the bad economy -when she can't find work after graduation.
Norma soon realizes she's working at a high-class sweatshop for little than fifty grand a year.....
....A victim of age, gender, and national origin discrimination, and sexual harassment.
NO minority attorney's work at the firm.

Oscar is the "Supervisor of the Copy Department", [COPY GUY], divorced, with two teenage girls.
Oscar hires minority 'staff positions' in his dept. ----but Norma & Oscar agree that RLS is a ***BLATANT DISCRIMINATION***Law firm.

Sheryl Sorrentino juggles the office politics with romance --through multiple points of views. With complex dichotomies between love & responsibility --The author is an entertaining, humane, intelligent writer. Her natural storytelling ability to communicate about love, sex, social responsibility, blending of families, financial concerns, touches the most common elements of the heart.

The private sexual conversations between Oscar & Norma are handled with sensitively - allowing the reader to be fully engaged with the couple's unsettling issues.
Just how resilient are the bonds of love between Norma & Oscar?

This novel has many other minor 'memorable' characters I've not mentioned --(and a purposeful plot I've not given away either) --

Kukos to Sheryl Sorrentino for her vibrant smart compelling novel!!!!! (with a wondrous ending resolution)!!!!

*****I have 'one' small 'dislike' --- Its on page 251: Here is the Line:
" And since RLS was a predominantly Jewish Law Firm, why do it on Christmas Eve, just for the heck of it?" ---- Here is my problem with the 'slant' of that line....
No place in this story until 251 pages into it --was it mentioned that RLS was predominantly a Jewish Law firm. ----
I think the story didn't need this added 'punch' from Norma ----

By this far into the novel --(as readers) --We've come to appreciate the strong female protagonist Norma has become. We've watched her grow in finding her own voice in both her business & personal life. She knows first hand what discrimination feels like.
I think throwing in that 'Jewish' statement was a weak stab --(lacking integrity). Norma didn't need to kick below the belt ---
It was the ONLY place in the book the 'Jewish-card' was played this way. (I know the jokes - but I personally feel it wasn't necessary).
I'm guessing --most readers won't feel as sensitive as about this as I did ---(but that was my 'only' dislike)

THIS was a fully enjoyable novel!!! It has every element a good novel is suppose to have!!!

I not only recommend it to all my friends --I think this would make an excellent 'group-club' pick. There are some several sensitive topics (for both men & women) -- This story could have gone in several directions also. GREAT group discussion book!!!!

Profile Image for Glenda Bixler.
572 reviews14 followers
October 5, 2012
The cover of Sorrentino's novel, The Floater is eye-catching and fun, but there are surprising scenes behind it that are thought-provoking, revealing...and so very human... Readers enter into the life of one woman, Norma Reyes. While she may not in any way match your own personal profile, she and her friend, Oscar, do well represent today's life style. In fact, it is "kinda" scary just how much you may find in this novel to relate to...

Sorrentino places us squarely into the hardship of Norma's family life, including flashes of memories from her father's abuse. And how that affects intimacy issues in her adult relationships. But a very important part of her story is the extensive harassment and discrimination she found when trying to enter the legal profession.

Once I finished the novel, I wondered whether there was just too much that happened in Norma's life to be believable, but while you are reading it, it feels real and the emotions displayed easily pull you into the story. No matter what, the author has bared the internal

lives of, especially, two people who are trying to find a stable relationship and be able to maintain it. That struggle is sometimes more than bearable, isn't it?!

Norma had just graduated and taken the bar exam, although she had not yet received the results when she applied at a large firm at which she had worked the previous summer. She and her boss at that time had developed a good working relationship and Norma was confident of being accepted there.

She was, but not as a lawyer...

Needing the money, Norma became "The Floater," a secretary who moved throughout the firm whenever and wherever she was needed.

She soon began to feel the humiliation and pressure routinely given to the support staff... and more...

While at the same time, Oscar shared a letter he had been given, that documented the intent of the firm to discriminate against her. Later, it was Oscar, after they had acknowledged how they felt about each other, that supported her in filing a discrimination charge against the company.

I loved the ending of this novel, showing what was really important in making decisions for the future. But I was amazed at the complexity of the lives revealed, for instance, as Oscar, a divorced man with two children he loved, tries to deal with his own family responsibilities while attempting to meet the needs of the woman he now loved. At the same time, if Norma was to move into any type of personal relationship, she had to confront her past demons, especially about intimacy, and work through all the pain and fear of the past and learn to trust.

This is a remarkable story in many ways, delving deeper into the internal lives of people than most books, while yet sending a message of potential growth and love even though it comes later in life. I enjoyed that frankness not with a peeking tom mentality, but rather from how much we learn that people, no matter what sex, age, race or profession all have the same emotional burdens that we seem to think can only happen to ourselves...

That leaves a very satisfactory feeling in closing the book, The Floater, by Sheryl Sorrentino...

287 reviews5 followers
May 23, 2021
I've spent nearly twenty years of my career working in law firms big and small. And I can vouch for how well "The Floater" nails the petty power slights, the stiff hierarchy and the arrogance of the lawyers, that is all too real in the legal industry.

Norma is a believable character with plenty of street and book smarts that she earned the hard way as a middle-aged latina who couldn't rely on youth, attractiveness or her non-existent old boy's network to get ahead in this high-powered legal world. Her experience with her mother is heartbreaking and we partially relive that in the relationship with her sister.

But it is the employment discrimination suit against her law firm that supplies the core drama of the story. How will these powerful lawyers react to getting sued by a member of their support staff? Will she win? Can she keep her job at the firm even while taking its lawyers to court? There is also a
wonderful cameo appearance by an East-Indian woman, Jayashri Gupta, who acts as Norma's lawyer. She is such a terrific counterpoint to the scumbag attorneys that mistreat Norma and she serves as the source of the novel's moral hope.

The heart of the novel is found in the love affair between Norma and Oscar Peterson, the African American who is the firm's copy center manager. He finds the damning evidence that allows Norma to pursue her lawsuit and he supports completely in her lawsuit and also in her life. Oscar is a strong, good man but he is far from perfect. A bit of a hot head who had an affair while married to his first wife, I liked him a lot maybe because of how he overcame his flaws and that could explain Norma's attraction to him as well.

This is the third of Sheryl Sorrentino's novels I've read and while all of them are riveting, "The Floater" reflects a writer who has made big leaps as novelist. I'm enthusiastically awaiting her next one!
Profile Image for RYCJ.
Author 19 books29 followers
August 17, 2014
The Good. The first thing I noticed about this story was its organized, clean, and patient writing.

The Mmeh Okay. This aspect really pulled me into the folds of its loquacious sphere, even as I tried to connect with the values of the 46-year old unmarried, childless Norma. She tried to explain herself, but it became tougher on each encounter, and there were many... the mother who could no longer help herself, the sister who couldn't help herself, the landlord w/benefits??... the law firm and its rounds of issues... the clients who needed help...and then Norma.

...Which was exactly what funneled into the Best Part. The Floater reads much like a soap opera. It is the perfect story to read a little each day, to see what is going to happen next. Is Norma going to pass the bar… get married… sue the company…own the company through settlement, or will Joe Blumburg, Jonathan, or someone or something else intervene and send her on another course? Oscar was one who really reeled me in...in part the intrigue that drew me to back to the story, a little each day. Certainly, very well written.
Profile Image for BookHeroin .
286 reviews350 followers
August 10, 2014
I read this back a while back now, but i forgot to write a review and rate it! so i need to re-read it in order to give a solid review.

But i really remember loving it. It was for sure a new type of read for me. I usually go for totally different genres like YA. Dystopia. Classics. And the like.
I remember when i was in the 10th grade i read a more "adult like" book . With older characters. It was by Danielle Steel. The point is that those type of books are good to read every once in while. I thought Sheryl Sorrentino did a really good job in writing this book, her style of writing is good. I look forward to read more of her books. :)

Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,133 followers
October 9, 2012
Norma Reyes has worked hard to improve her life, from leaving Puerto Rico for mainland U.S. to working her way up to a supervisor role at a call centre and putting herself through a bachelor degree part-time - all while financially supporting her younger sister who lives on welfare while caring for her son who has autism. Then she loses her job due to outsourcing, takes her newly widowed, dementia-suffering mother into her tiny apartment, and puts herself through a law degree all at the same time. At forty-sxi years old, her law degree is her crowning achievement and also her hope for a better future. After a summer internship at a huge corporate law firm, Robertson, Levine & Shemke, Norma had every expectation of getting a first-year attorney position with the annual intake of new graduates.

Instead, she's told by Jonathan Shemke, one of the partners, that she did a wonderful job but that unfortunately, due to the recession (it's 2009), the firm isn't taking on any first-years. After job-hunting for several months, Norma goes back to Jonathan and practically begs for something, anything. So they give her a floater job - a contract position with zero stability, where she works as a receptionist or personal assistant to whomever needs one, shuffled around sometimes week to week.

Working as a floater is something of a rude awakening for Norma. Sneered at, mocked for her night-school law degree from a less prestigious school, Norma is made quickly aware of the class structure and hierarchy at the firm and the sexual abuse the female administrative staff deals with, but she still believes she can prove herself and get hired as an attorney. When she finds out that the company did hire first-year attorneys, including ones she interned with, she questions Jonathan Shemke. The lawyers give her smooth lines and empty promises, and Norma is just naive enough to believe in them.

Her new assignment is as Jonathan's executive assistant, and part of her job is to make appointments for him with an escort agency - despite the fact that it's harassment and illegal, and Norma still has to go up before the ethics committee before being sworn in as a lawyer. In return, she is given a large amount of legal work to do, mostly in her own time, and for no money. Norma may well chafe at all this unfairness, but it isn't until her new boyfriend, Oscar, who runs the copy room, shows her a memo he was meant to shred that clearly outlines the discriminatory reasons why she didn't get hired as a lawyer, that Norma finally takes action.

The Floater is a thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive look into the difficulties non-white people, people who don't go to the "top" universities and know all the right people, have in breaking into certain fields, or certain companies. It's a story about discrimination, about standing up for yourself, about reaching out to other people and recognising when it's okay to ask for help.

I could sympathise with Norma, working in admin when she's so over-qualified for it, because of the job market (and other factors), because it's very similar to what I went through - and seriously, I may be good at administrative work, but Lordy do I loathe it!! I'd actually never heard of the term "floater" before, in the job sense, but Norma offers a very apt analogy of her new job:

Her new job title conjured the distasteful image of a stubborn piece of shit bobbing in the toilet, refusing to go down no matter how many times you flushed. "Well, they can't keep this chica down," Norma silently vowed, confident she would not be working as a rotating secretary for long.

Norma is a lonely woman who's kept herself so busy she doesn't even recognise her own loneliness. Having protected and supported her younger sister all her life - from the sexual abuse of their father, and from being homeless and destitute - she takes on more responsibility, guilt and self-reproach than is healthy for anyone. Her mother, Leticia, who is probably suffering from dementia though she hasn't been diagnosed (land of out-of-reach medical care, right?), seems to outright resent eldest daughter while attributing everything that is wonderful to her younger daughter, Inez, even though Inez never visits her or helps out and, like Leticia, blames Norma for anything that goes wrong in her life.

Not only is her family less than supportive, but Norma's landlord, a detective who lives in the downstairs flat, barely speaks to her even though (or maybe because) they had a lukewarm affair several years before - before his pregnant girlfriend turned up. In truth, Norma's never had a real relationship with anyone, and she still thinks men just want sex and that sex is something you use, as a woman, to get what you want or to appease a man. When she meets Oscar, the African-American divorcee with two teenaged daughters whom she instantly connects with, she has to finally mature and stop seeing him as yet another person who just wants something from her. Oscar is a real sweetheart, and the real deal, and provides a steep learning curve from Norma - only her inner voice reminding her of what she feels for him stops her from completely screwing up the burgeoning relationship. The honesty and realism of her inner voice and all its preconceived notions and hangups was very refreshing.

Sorrentino, a lawyer herself for many years, says in her afterword that the firm in the story isn't meant to depict the real state of affairs in law firms today, which is reassuring to hear. Even when you remove the sexual harassment, the bullying, the unreasonable expectations, and the over-the-top hierarchy, Sorrentino completely strips the profession of any of the gloss lingering from those silly TV shows that made a law degree suddenly so fashionable (Ally McBeal etc.). But it's Norma's ambition, and even though I couldn't understand why she'd want to work for a company like Robertson, Levine & Shemke in the first place, I had to respect her commitment, her drive, her dedication, her incredible work ethic, especially in the face of some very real obstacles. As she tells Oscar (who would know where she's coming from, being a black man in America):

It took me graduating from law school and taking this stupid floater job to realize that I've always been treated with disrespect. It's subtle, you know? But because I'm Hispanic, my entire life I've had to keep up my guard, trying to act extra poised and vigilant so I wouldn't say or do the wrong thing. I wanted to become a lawyer to earn the money and respect I never got as a working-class, minority woman. But after all that, the best I could do was land a secretarial job - and as a floater, no less!"

The way Norma was treated put my stomach in knots, as if I was on the receiving end of this treatment, these comments - not along racial lines, but because in my own life, I'm the kind of overly-sensitive person who would probably start crying if I was snapped at - I've always been like that: getting yelled at, rare as it was, completely snapped me in half and I would become like a shadow of myself. I was pretty impressed at Norma's ability to brush off the way people spoke to her, to persist and not be beaten down by it. She may not have realised the strength of character that took, but I certainly did!

If the antics of the top lawyer are a bit exaggerated, everything else in the story has the distinct feel of realism. Norma's determination to break through the race, age, gender and class barriers form a large part of her character, while the parallel yet more uncertain, even timid exploration into a real adult relationship - as well as finally dealing with the forgotten horror of her past - edges her character with fear, insecurity and a great depth of feeling. The story is not very predictable, and that sense of uncertainty adds to the realism and the tension.

While I didn't quite connect to Norma the way I wanted to - we get her third-person perspective throughout, and it's too much of a "tell" narrative than a "show" one for me to really feel her - it was an engrossing story and not one I've ever read before. Norma is a true underdog, and her road to learning to stand up for herself - and for others suffering similar issues, in the process - is a tough one but a very real one.

My thanks to the author for a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Profile Image for LiteraryMarie.
562 reviews51 followers
March 28, 2013
Norma Reyes is not the normal 46-year-old woman. She is a recent law school graduate supporting her elderly mother who unfortunately has dementia. After working as a summer law clerk at a prestigious law firm and taking the bar exam, Norma is confident she'll land a job immediately. But due to the recession, she is only hired as a floater. No, not the "stubborn piece of shit bobbing in the toilet" but a rotating secretary. The job is just a pit stop until the economy gets better, or so Norma hopes. Next thing you know, a smoking gun falls into Norma's hands that forces her into a legal battle.

Let's talk about the book cover first. Caught your eye, didn't it? It may seem light-hearted and maybe even comedic. But this book has way more serious moments than the cover portrays.

It is evident that the author, Sheryl Sorrentino, is a practicing attorney. While the law firm and events in the book are fictional, it is clear Sheryl knows her stuff! The well developed plot is an example of glass ceilings and legal drama. In the Author's Note, Sheryl reveals that her goal was to evoke intense reactions in readers. Well, consider the goal achieved.

I recommend The Floater for middle-aged women and book clubs. It is also a good read for those working in corporate America that may feel unappreciated. Let Norma's story give you hope.

Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
Profile Image for Yvette.
111 reviews5 followers
October 26, 2012
It's been awhile since I've written a book review. I was saving my energy to trash, Fifty Shades of Grey, but I still can't do it - too much anger spewing, and not enough energy.

Okay, moving along, to a much better book. Okay, that's not a very good compliment, since anything is better than Fifty Shades of Grey...ha! Seriously though, I just finished reading the book, The Floater, by Sheryl Sorrentino, and I am pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. Funny thing, I only read the book because I got a random email in my Goodreads account, by a stranger who recommended it to me based on the fact that I had listed "When I was Puerto Rican," as a book that I liked. I was a bit skeptical at first, especially after looking at the cover. I don't know why, but the cover made me think it was cheesy, but then I thought, "what the heck?" And I gave it a shot. I am so glad that I did because I now have another author to add to my books-I-cannot-wait-to-read-list. At the surface, this book seems like an easy read, chick-lit, but honestly, it's not. Yes, it was quiet enjoyable, easy to read, and very funny at times, but it had thought provoking topics, it had issues that tug at your heart. I would compare it to a good Julia Roberts movie, yes, most of them are "chick flicks," but look at the serious issues in the story of Erin Brockovich. That's this book.

First, I'll start by saying that this author is a very good writer. I have read books with great potential, that have fallen short because the author just couldn't pull it off. This isn't the case with Sorrentino, actually the opposite is true; because she is a talented writer the story comes to life and is believable. I mean, I thought that the woman was Puerto Rican - that's how authentic her Puerto Rican characters are. I was actually floored when I found out that she isn't Puerto Rican and that writing these characters were from second hand knowledge (friendships) and research. When an author can fool you in that manner, that's how you know she is good at what she does.

Another likable aspect of this book is the protagonist, Norma Reyes - you root for her, you sympathize with her and you want her to win. She is a strong woman: intelligent, hard working, determined, and with potential for enormous success. However, due to her ethnicity and status she struggles to realize her true worth. Norma is a Puerto Rican girl, living in the Bronx, who despite caring for an elderly ailing mother, a drug addicted sister, and her sister's children, she puts herself through law school and handles all the financial burden. After completing law school and a summer internship with a prestigious law firm, Norma should have landed a job, as a first year associate with that firm. However, she is told that because of budget cuts, hiring first year associates are frozen, and she is offered a job as a "floater," a secretary who works throughout the firm, wherever she is needed. Although this position is way beneath what she should be doing, she accepts because she must continue to support herself, and her mother. Being a floater doesn't stop Norma from trying to realize her dream of becoming a lawyer and while trying to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder she uncovers racism, chauvinism, and a company builded on lies. It's a whirlwind of discoveries, not just of the company, but of herself. Norma uncovers childhood traumas and self doubt. She realizes that these things, more than anything else are what hold her down from true success and from a loving relationship with a man. Yes, there is also romance in this book. We are introduced to a wonderfully strong character, who, for spoiler reasons, I will not reveal his name. Let's just say that this character is also very likable and he is exactly what Norma needed, even though it pissed her off at times :)

At the surface this story is about a girl trying to become somebody, trying to get out of poverty, trying to overcome being a stereotypical hispanic. However, delve deeper and you find the real struggles that she faces - the internal self sabotaging struggles. She must overcome family dysfunctionality, abuse, and self doubt - which have held her down from finding true love and from being successful, not in the monetary sense, but in a self respecting manner. With a talented writer, well developed characters, and a thought provoking premise, you have a really good book - The Floater.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
451 reviews2 followers
October 3, 2012
Norma Reyes is 46 years old, a recent law school graduate who lives with her elderly mother. It is 2009 and the job market for new lawyers looks dismal; as a result, Norma accepts a job as a floating secretary for the law firm she interned at. While working as a floater, Norma meets Oscar who works in the copy center. The two quickly fall for one another, but Norma’s work situation goes from bad to worse when Oscar recovers a memo revealing Norma was not hired as a lawyer at the firm for reasons based on her age, ethnicity (Puerto Rican), and socioeconomic status. Norma finds herself in a (seemingly) uphill battle against her employers, at the same time she is forced to come to terms with some serious personal issues surrounding her relationships with Oscar and her family.

I picked this book up for $1.50 on my kindle because I was intrigued by the premise of a lawyer working as a secretary (I feel like I am in a similar situation, having my master’s and working in an admin role). It was a quick read and was much more serious than I thought it would be given the title and cover. There is a lot of cringe-worthy stuff in this book like the blatantly discriminatory memo, the demeaning way Norma is treated by her co-workers and family, and the sad fate of Norma’s mother. Very little goes well for Norma through much of the book and the punches keep coming. Normally, I can’t stand a story where nothing goes right for the character. The Floater, however, was an exception. I think the fact that Norma is growing and becoming stronger and more confident and less of a doormat as the story continues makes up for the fact that she is facing a lot of tough stuff.

I am not entirely sure of how I feel about the fact that Norma really only begins to stand up for herself after she meets Oscar. It didn’t read like she was dependent on him for strength, though. It more seemed that Oscar gave her someone to lean on, as well as the safety and love that she needed to grow a backbone. However, it takes quite a while for Norma to reciprocate the emotional support Oscar gives her. I don’t know. It’s a pretty popular convention in women’s fiction for the character to flourish right around the same time she meets the man of her dreams. I just don’t like the idea that these characters need the guys around to get themselves together.

Overall, though, this was an enjoyable read and something I’d certainly recommend to someone looking for something a little different in the vein of women’s fiction– Norma is a bit older than the usual character, is Puerto Rican, dates someone who is African American, and is not middle-class. There is also a little bit of legal drama in here too, which is a genre I’m not really familiar with (outside of television), but I imagine if you like women’s fiction and legal drama, you’d find something here to enjoy.
Author 7 books41 followers
December 18, 2012
What makes an average novel great? For me the novel has to do three things: be authentic, powerful and vibrant, and a well developed plot. The Floater does just that. Norma Reyes is middle aged and working hard to make more than a difference in society. Just like the rest of us Norma is faced with more than a few obstacles and hurdles to overcome. You'll find yourself cheering, laughing, and at times even crying as the Norma becomes a classic modern day character like so many of us. Sorrentino is a smart and edgy writer that knows how to evoke emotions from readers. With a well developed plot, enigmatic characters, and strong message I guarantee you'll love the Floater just as much as I did.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
62 reviews4 followers
October 8, 2012
This book was awesome. Sheryl I want to thank you. I have read so many books where I found the characters somewhat unbelievable because I couldn't relate to the attitudes or lives. Not the case with this book. I saw myself in Norma. I felt at times like this book was written for me especially. It's funny because my neice calls me Titi too! Thanks Sheryl. I'm so glad I won your book in the giveaways! Your one of my new favorite authors!
4 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2014
The Floater's insightful journey into the inner workings of Big Law ring true to life. Norma is a strong, intelligent character who fights her way from the inside and finds love in the process. This book is so captivating that while reading on the train I missed my stop and ended up a few cities past home! I highly recommend this book!
September 5, 2022
"The Floater", is excellent. I enjoyed it and through reading, recognize your growing skill as a writer and storyteller.

Norma Reyes is as fascinating as is her family situation/dysfunction. She is a proud Puerto Rican living a normal and relatable life. She worked at the phone company and wanted more out of life. As focused as Norma is, Her family reality is chaotic and real. Her mother's deterioration and tragic death via the traffic accident, and her sister's complete mess of a life and delusional position where Norma was concerned bothered me because I have seen this in my family. Inez reminds me of several people who will never make it in this world because of her drug use and stupidity.

Inez's disabled son's situation hit me like a Tomahawk cruise missile right on GPS-guided target. My older brother is developmentally disabled and I have many friends who have sons of various ages who live with the family-energy sapping challenges associated with autism.

I despised how Miguél's mother's neglect put him in a ambulance.

Norma's beautiful niece Marissa, became a teen aged baby momma of two and has poor judgement in men as evidenced by the two fathers. She is real to me because I know so many who made similar life-altering decisions.

Norma's drive to become a practicing lawyer and being compelled to take a floater's job with a racist and sexist Manhattan law firm, was the engine of the novel. I enjoyed Norma fighting for her rights with the lawsuit. That substory was superb, and as a former Union President, I was smiling because I have filed several charges with EEOC. When Counselor Jayshri Gupta blasted the firm when they were improperly deposing Norma, I cheered; she gutted those bastards and wiped the smugness from their faces.

Norma's Black boyfriend, Oscar, is a divorced father of two girls who worked in the non-attorney nerve center of the law firm. He obtained the confidential evaluation of Norma produced by Norma's superiors that was a racist hit job that angered me. Oscar's ex-wife is a flake and his brother Miles is a good guy married to a Black Woman who is trying to force him to adopt two foster children. That woman came on too strong. She is not evil, but the pressure put on Miles is too much; to me, she did not consider that adoption was not something Miles wanted to do. Oscar and Miles' mother was quite a character; within the force field of respectable senior citizenship, she cut her sons for Oscar's divorce, Miles unwillingness to adopt, and Norma because she was not the ex-wife.

The author became Norma Reyes the Puerto Rican and this is a magnificent accomplishment. You are an excellent writer and I look forward to reading "Stop And Frisk" that I have also purchased.
Profile Image for Nancy.
309 reviews
April 11, 2013
I enjoyed this novel which deals with the discrimination a Puerto Rican woman suffers at the hands of a big law firm.

Norma Reyes had decided in her 40's to pursue a legal career primarily to make big money to support her many family members dependent on her. After having completed her education, she begins the processing of interning at a law firm in hopes of being hired. Her plans take a detour when she is not offered a 1st year associates position. In her desperation to get to this "big bucks" she takes a position as a floater at the same firm where subsequently she finds out she is a victim of discrimination.

This is a strong and powerful story of Norma's fight when she finds out through her love interest that she was discriminated against.

There's a variety of emotions running through this story:
While with Oscar, it seems to me that Norma is always crying. Her love affair with him is clouded over by a past secret and that is issue she needs to deal with.
She is embarrassed by her affair with her loser landlord.
She is the unloved child of her mother.
She is emotionally abused by her drug dependent sister.
And now she works in a law firm where she is treated poorly because of her race, age and gender.

Ms. Sorrentino packed alot of emotional baggage in the story and then creates the uber-strong character of Oscar to help Norma. I liked him but he was just a little too much. He always seemed able to solve the current situation.

As for Norma her character did grate on my nerves. Her insistence at staying on with the same law firm that put her through her ordeal portrayed someone who was insecure. I wouldn't have thought that of her since she showed such strength and ambition with getting her degree and taking on the role of care-giver to her mother.

As for the other characters, there were plenty. Ms. Sorrentino did an excellent job of portraying the attorneys as cruel, insensitive and arrogant. Norma's family needed more interaction in the story. There was no doubt of her sister's drug abuse and subsequent downfall but I just wanted a bit more.

My last remarks are in relation to the cover of the book. The cover portrays what looks like a white woman sitting on a toilet wearing a thong. This is a serious novel about discrimination and harassment of a Puerto Rican woman. I would not get that from the cover.
Profile Image for Maria.
83 reviews37 followers
August 28, 2014
I would give The Floater 31/2 stars. Norma, the main character, is a forty-six year old Puerto Rican woman who has completed a law degree and is waiting to find out if she passed the bar exam. She is working at a big law firm as a floater because the firm said they couldn't hire her after she worked for them as an intern. She knows she isn't being offered a job as a lawyer anywhere else because of the bad economy. The environment at the law firm is toxic and the lawyers ask her to do a series of demeaning tasks. She needs the money to help with her mother who lives with her. Norma's family treats her horribly, and she lacks the confidence to stand up for herself.
Things start to change for Norma when she meets Oscar from the copy room. He shows her he is really there for her when tragic things start to happen to her. He discovers the real reason she wasn't offered a job at the law firm where they both work. This starts a journey for Norma at work, to try and get the law firm to take responsibility for what they have done to her. Her growth as a woman in such trying circumstances at work parallels her growth in her and Oscar's relationship.
I think the dialogue is very well written. I felt the author, Sheryl Sorrentino, writes in a way that I feel like I'm watching a movie. She would be a terrific screen writer!
She addresses the only negative I had with the book in her author's note, which was that there was a lot of umm, descriptive language about body functions that I found a little much! But I was surprised she actually pointed that out in her own book! One thing I found different about the story was the way there was brutal honesty in the dialogue and it took me awhile to get used to it. The raw feelings and thoughts of the characters were really brought out and was shocking to me at first, especially Oscar's character. I felt this book was probably more true to real life because of the nature of the writing, even if it was a little off putting for me personally.
The Floater was a good read and has a great message of overcoming obstacles and not letting others dictate your circumstances.
Profile Image for Julie Barrett.
8,052 reviews141 followers
March 9, 2013
The Floater by Sheryl Sorrentino
Warning: graphic scenes..
Like how the book has multiple meanings that are explained as you read.
This book is about Norma who not only worked 8 hours a day but went to college to get a law degree. She then brought her mother from PR to live with her as she has dementia.
The story also follows her sister Inez and her family. Love how she goes after what she believes in. Very hard life with no backup and when her mother has gone missing the law firm that she's a floater secretary for won't allow her to leave.
Over time she gets sued for leaving her mother unattended and while working at the firm she is harassed and she files suit against them.
Loved hearing what happens in the background of the law firm and how she makes friends with several others there that lead to meaningful relationships.
Love the item Camille gives her for Christmas and how the family has accepted her before they even know her.
Loved hearing of the city and the travel as I am a country girl myself.
Tough reading some of the graphic scenes but the story would not have been the same without them. Makes her a stronger person in the long run.
Profile Image for T.
729 reviews8 followers
April 3, 2016
This book just rubbed me the wrong way. Norma, the main character, was completely unlikable and incredibly unsympathetic. I've never described a fictional character like this, but there's a first time for everything -- she was headache inducingly shrill. She had such a wild and overblown sense of entitlement. You could probably see the chip on her shoulder from outer space.

I should have DNF'd this one because I found myself annoyed at the mere thought of picking it up everytime I tried to read a few more pages. In the end, I just refused to let this book win. But, it was still painfully frustrating and I was hair's thickness away from just giving up altogether. I so wish I could get my money back that I wasted on this stinker.

The only saving graces in this story were Denise and Oscar.

Not recommended.
Profile Image for Alma .
1,156 reviews8 followers
January 27, 2013
“The Floater” tells the story of Puerto Rican 46-year-old Norma Reyes, who managed to make it through law school while taking care of her ill mother and various family members. She takes a job working as a Floating Secretary at a law firm, hoping to be hired on as a lawyer.

Read the rest of my review at: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.c...
Profile Image for Alisha Simko.
98 reviews16 followers
March 15, 2014
Sheryl Sorentino is one heck of a writer, her books get me so drawn in and not only is the story so real, touching, heartfelt etc....it has been educational for me in a fun kind of way. This is my 2nd book I've read by Sheryl Sorrentino and I will read every last one and the ones that she writes in the future. Thanks Sheryl for taking me on another adventure!!!! 5 star book!
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