This Could Hurt


An archly funny and deeply felt novel that illuminates the pivotal role of work in our lives. A riveting fusion of THE NEST and THEN WE CAME TO THE END that captures the emotional complexities of five HR colleagues trying to balance ambition, hope, and fear as their small company is buffeted by economic forces that threaten to upend them.

Authentic, razor-sharp, and achingly funny, THIS COULD HURT is a masterful novel about work, loneliness, love, and loyalty; about sudden reversals and unexpected windfalls; a novel about life.


52 Weeks, 52 Books, 52 Women says: “This is the perfect moment for THIS COULD HURT, a funny, insightful tale of the HR department of Ellery Consumer Research, a company trying to manage the economic downturn of 2009…”

REAL SIMPLE raves: “Uplifting and hilarious…As [characters] navigate office drama, love affairs, and personal ambitions in the face of corporate cutbacks, Medoff examines the impact our work-life decisions have on our home lives.”


INDIE NEXT Pick: “Who knew that a novel about a faltering company’s HR department could be so gripping and compassionate? Anyone who has worked in a company with other people will appreciate the resentments, friendships, and competitions that develop in a long-time team. Medoff does a great job of making the reader care about each and every character.” —Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany NY

SHELF AWARENESS brings big love to THIS COULD HURT: “Corporate America during nine months of the Great Recession is the setting of This Could Hurt, Jillian Medoff’s shrewd and deeply affecting fourth novel …Medoff has a spot-on grasp on the often cutthroat nuances of office politics…She skillfully reveals the modus operandi of the staff as they vie to keep their jobs. Sharply drawn intimate details about the lives of each character add even greater depth and broaden the timeless appeal of this very smart, thoroughly absorbing story..”

SOUTHERN LIVING: “Set within the cogs of corporate America, THIS COULD HURT tells the story of five colleagues struggling with professional tumult, uncertainty, and ambition. Jillian Medoff unfolds these characters’ daily lives, the hours spent at the office, with precision and a strong dose of humanity.”

KIRKUS raves: “Although Medoff frankly chronicles plenty of scheming and self-serving, Rosa’s devotion to her staff is repaid with loyalty and affection that are all the more poignant coming from believably flawed characters…everyone gets nicely textured treatment in an engrossing narrative…a sharp-eyed novel of corporate manners…”

LIBRARY JOURNAL raves (starred review): “…An ultimately hopeful, completely inventive tale…”

BOOKLIST raves: “Incisive…Medoff’s scenarios will be familiar to everyone employed everywhere, no matter the company size, and she cogently captures the angst and celebrates the camaraderie of coworkers committed to group success while struggling with personal demons.”

POPSUGAR, Best Winter Books of 2018: “On the surface, THIS COULD HURT is a novel about five human resources colleagues. But in Jillian Medoff’s hands, this is much more than a workplace satire. It is a sharp, engaging, and smart look at the people we work with and the deep inner lives we all lead.”

RT raves (TOP PICK for Jan): “A charming, intriguing, incredibly funny and brilliant satire..Medoff brilliantly shares looks at all the characters and their lives both in and out of the workplace, and while the subject matter can sometimes be serious or gripping in a more emotional way, there is still plenty of bite from her witty writing, which also shines throughout. 4.5 stars!”

PW raves (well, more or less): “…a sharp and moving novel…”

All too often, characters in novels live in that rarified novel-world where real-life concerns like jobs and bills and the sudden vital need for a flowchart simply don’t exist. Jillian Medoff remedies this with a refreshingly authentic portrait of corporate America and the varied souls that dream, conspire, flounder and triumph there, and this she does with a great deal of affection and charm. A very enjoyable book.

Corporate America has been trying to stamp out individuality for decades but Jillian Medoff brings it back to fresh, sexy, sharply funny life again. THIS COULD HURT is a missive to everyone who feels stranded in an office: You are not alone.

The workplace novel has long been the territory of male novelists—well, no more. Medoff’s provocative, comic portrait of modern American office life is a study of power, and how having it and wanting it, tests the bonds coworkers share far beyond the break room. It not only upends female stereotypes like a cheap desk, it also earns Medoff a place at the table. And all for seventy cents on the male dollar.

Jillian Medoff is one of those talented writers who make other less talented writers (myself) want to write flattering blurbs. Funny, painful, and ultimately redemptive, THIS COULD HURT is a beautifully drawn canvas of corporate America in all its lunacy.
—JOHN KENNEY, Thurber-award winning author of TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

You wouldn’t expect a corporate HR department to house a thrill-ride of a novel, but Jillian Medoff pulls off the impossible here. Funny, searing and wholly original…Medoff knocks this one out of the park.
—DARIN STRAUSS, National Book Critics Circle award winning author of HALF A LIFE

Clear your Outlook calendar and have tissues at the ready for this huge-hearted page turner that reaffirms the healing power of plain old kindness.
—COURTNEY MAUM, bestselling author of TOUCH

Tender and compelling, Jillian Medoff’s THIS COULD HURT reveals what happens when the ties that bind us start to fray and we are called upon to care for each other. That these relationships are among coworkers in an HR department makes them as unpredictable as they are hilarious but always real and always entertaining.
—GEORGE HODGMAN, NY Times bestselling author of BETTYVILLE

Searing, sexy and surprisingly funny, Jillian Medoff’s THIS COULD HURT burns through the pages. No one is safe in this cruel but compassionate take on corporate America. I loved it.


Against all odds, Rosa Guerrero became a high-ranking corporate executive. By wielding power with grace and compassion, the longtime HR chief at Ellery Consumer Research has earned the devotion and loyalty of her senior staff.

With the economy in the tank, and unemployment on the rise, Ellery’s future looks grim. While Rosa fights to insulate her people from these harsh business realities, they’re facing crises of their own. Unlike Leo Smalls who has no life outside of Ellery (or Rosa), Rob Hirsch’s existential dread pushes him closer to his “work wife,” Lucy Bender, a brainy, ambitious VP who’s desperate to find meaning in her life. For Kenny Verville, a Wharton MBA, Ellery is merely a stepping-stone to better places—that is, if he can get out of his own way.

Day after day, these heartbreakingly flawed coworkers scheme and dream, fall in and out of love, and chase dreams big and small. But when Rosa, their guiding light, begins to unravel, Leo, Rob, Lucy, and Kenny find themselves challenged in ways beyond their reckoning.