At first, all Sophia Young wanted was to find a job until she could find a husband. Instead, she finds herself working for Scott Kraft, a notoriously unpredictable and demanding tech mogul. She soon becomes more interested in her work in investor relations than in getting married, which she never planned on. She is quickly promoted and becomes an asset at Kraft’s new business, an animation company called Treehouse that’s set to disrupt the movie industry.
Fans of Pixar, Apple and Steve Jobs will enjoy the parallels between Jobs and the fictional Kraft. Kraft, who founded a revolutionary technology company called Quince before taking over Treehouse, also creates the first wave of smart phones, known as “Q-phones.” Similarly, author Anna Yen pays homage to Pixar, where she herself worked in investor relations. In the book, Treehouse creates movies like “The Amazings,” and “Treasures,” which seem to be a nod to Pixar’s real-life movies “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story.”
As Sophia becomes more and more of an asset at Treehouse, she finds it hard to balance the demands of her 24/7 job with the effort required in her family and romantic relationships. Despite her previous focus on finding “Mr. Right,” Sophia comes to prioritize her job over her romantic prospects, and even sometimes her health. (At age 26, she still lives at home to assuage her parents’ concerns over her lifelong diabetes.) Working at Treehouse allows her to blossom in her field and become highly sought after for her business experience within the technology world of Silicon Valley- even by Kraft’s rival, Andre Stark.
The technology jargon can be somewhat hard to understand if you don’t work in the business field, and the dialogue and emails included can sometimes slow down the pace of a scene. The book covers a decent amount of time in Sophia’s life, causing some plotlines to show up abruptly, and six weeks or a year can pass in a matter of pages (particularly in the beginning, when there’s a flashback).
While Sophia’s emotions can sometimes come across as stilted, the main characters are well drawn, and Yen does a good job of foreshadowing things that become important later in the novel. Sophia’s success at Treehouse (and the reason Kraft recruits her) is because she “[knows] how to get what she wants,” but Yen tries to balance Sophia’s get-things-done attitude by showing her insecurities, her fears and her family life.
The book moves briskly through plotlines and descriptions, and readers can see Sophia tackle work challenges, health issues and sleep deprivation to become a key player at her business. She grows to apply her strength in business to strength in standing up for herself, and she learns to trust her instincts. All in all, “Sophia of Silicon Valley” is a good book to read if you want to escape for a while, and enjoy a trip to Silicon Valley.
Reviewer Gabby Barone is a junior at Penn State majoring in print and digital journalism.