The Bookworm Sez: A lot of appeal in ‘The Boss’

Somebody needs to call the shots.

Leading by committee may seem equal, right? Everybody should have a voice, but there has to be a head honcho in the mix somewhere. Somebody has to make decisions and stand up, to lead with a big heart, a cool head, an open mind and, in “The Boss” by Aya de León, a solid backbone.

For Tyesha Couvillier, it should have been the best day of her life.

Newly graduated from Columbia with a degree in public health, she’d just landed a job as executive director of the Maria de la Vega Community Health Clinic, focusing on the well-being of New York ’s sex workers. It was a job she’d had her eye on for years, and she should have been celebrating.

Instead, there was nothing but drama: her older sister, Jenisse, was in town with her drug-dealing boyfriend and two teenage daughters. Not that Jenisse did anything specific; just her being in town aggravated Tyesha.

It didn’t help that Tyesha’s friend, Lily, was having trouble, too: she was a dancer at the One-Eyed King, a club that was forcing its strippers to do things they didn’t want to do and one girl almost got hurt. Lily had learned that a Ukrainian mob was behind the new rules, and so she’d turned to the Clinic — and Tyesha — for help.

So much drama — and yet, it was just what Tyesha needed. Her life was uninspiring, but going to bat for the strippers was something she could totally get into. She understood their plight: in another life, Tyesha had been a dancer/escort, too.

She had also helped run a little heist ring with her friend, Marisol, but that work was behind them both. Tyesha was respectable now; a professional with access to legal information who could help New York ’s dancers form a union.

If only her love life was as clear as her work project.

Tyesha had dated rapper Thug Woofer for awhile, but he kept blowing every chance she gave him to get it right. Now Tinder wasn’t cutting it and one-night stands were no good. Really, could any man handle a relationship with a strong woman like her?

While I do have to say that it’s quite far-fetched, “The Boss” is so, in a good way.

Pure escapism is what author Aya de León offers here with a story that actually has many separate plots — romance, family drama, a little espionage, and surprisingly righteous feminism — all of them appealing. Part of that appeal is with the character: de Leon’s Tyesha is smart but vulnerable and even though her story is over-the-top, she’s not. Real or imagined, every reader will be able to find a little of herself there, which makes this a doubly fun novel to enjoy.

This is an adult book all the way, complete with language and situations that are not for kids. Keep that in mind, and if you’re looking for a great summer escape, “The Boss” is just the shot you need.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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