Breathe In, Cash Out

A Novel

LIST PRICE $35.00
About The Book

“For when you want the ultimate beach read...Enter Madeleine Henry’s Breathe In, Cash Out. It’s The Devil Wears Prada meets Wall Street.” —The Skimm

“This is a portrait of the devil in Big Finance, which promises untold riches in return for serving an inhumane master. Allegra’s fictional story is raw, unnerving, and sadly, very true.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light

“A very stylish and entertaining debut.” —Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City

In this sizzling debut for fans of The Devil Wears Prada, Wall Street banking analyst Allegra Cobb plans to quit the minute her year-end bonus hits her account, finally pursuing her yoga career full-time. But when she forms an intense relationship with the #InstaFamous guru who may hold the ticket to the life Allegra's always wanted—she's not sure if she'll be able to keep her sanity intact (and her chakras aligned) until bonus day.

Allegra Cobb’s resume: Straight-A Princeton grad, second-year analyst at a top-tier bank, one-time American Yoga National Competition Champion. Allegra Cobb’s reality: Spends twenty-four hours a day changing the colors on bar charts, overusing the word “team,” and daydreaming about quitting the minute her year-end bonus hits her account. She has no interest in the cutthroat banking world—she’s going to launch her very own yoga practice.

But her plan isn’t quite as perfect as the beachfront yoga pictures she double-taps on Instagram. On top of the 100 emails an hour and coworkers already suspicious of her escape plan, Allegra's hard-driving single father has always expected fiercely high achievement above all else. That his daughter works on Wall Street means everything to him. Still, she marches on, taking it day by extremely caffeinated day.

But after (1) unknowingly sleeping with the man now leading her banking cohort on one of their biggest deals to date and (2) meeting the #blessed yoga guru who might just be her ticket to the life she’s always wanted, it really hits her: her happy-ever-after will be harder to manifest than she thought.

Fast-paced, laugh-out-loud funny, and totally irresistible, this is the story of a fearless young woman determined to center herself in the life she truly wants.

Excerpt
Breathe In, Cash Out chapter 1
The night before . . .

I am five coffees deep and drowsy. I rest in a split on my yoga mat as the women around me massage their own shoulders and luxuriate in slow head circles before the midnight class begins. Finally, a break.

One bare foot stamps my mat.

“Apologies.”

He strides past, leaving a temporary heel print on the vinyl. Apologies, muttered unintentionally and deadpan like a reflexive bless you to someone you don’t know on the subway. He unrolls his own yoga mat—one of the slippery two-dollar rentals—right beside me, leaving only inches between us. Great. In order to do a decent side crow or rock-star pose, I’m going to trespass on this asshole’s airspace. And he on mine.

He pretzels into a cross-legged seat, palms on his knees. His legs are thick and hairy beneath black spandex-and-mesh shorts. It’s not the typical yoga body. If his muscles were any bigger, they might be trashy. As they are now, his chest and arms fill his NANTUCKET TRIATHLON shirt perfectly. His face is sharp, and he’s not wearing a wedding ring. For a second, I imagine climbing onto his lap.

I stand and align the long edges of my mat perpendicular to the front of the room. Better. Arranging shapes is a habit of mine. For the past two years, I’ve spent half of my time as an investment banking analyst aligning text boxes of bullshit in PowerPoint.

“Do you have the time?” he asks.

“Yes,” I say. I like being deliberately vague.

He smirks. He is probably twice my age, judging from the patches of gray hair. Yoga tries to balance opposites, especially the masculine with the feminine, and the people you usually see in studios are evidence: lean, muscled women and flexible, necklace-wearing men. This stranger does not fit the mold. From his wide jaw to his massive feet, he is all man. The only man here.

“I’m Mark.” He extends a wide-fingered hand. I like big.

“Allegra,” I say, taking his.

I smile invitingly at Mark.

“You’re not one of those crazy yogis, are you?” he asks.

I laugh a little from shock.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Young and beautiful?” he says. “Can’t be trusted.”

“Yeah, totally,” I say sarcastically. “Just one of those yogi assholes, I guess.”

“Just rotten,” he says.

We laugh, and he winks. That was forward. His eyes drift down my body and back up again. Now I’m sure he’s hitting on me. If he weren’t so handsome, the advance in a yoga studio would put me off, but good-looking men can get away with overconfidence.

“Come to sukhasana, or any comfortable seat,” the teacher coos, “and let us take a moment to set our intention for practice today.” She leads us in an omm as we set our intentions, but I already know mine. I am going to yoga-fuck this Mark from my mat for the next hour.

* * *

Savasana, or corpse pose, is always last. After stretching out muscles useless to office life—the pelvic psoas as I twist my torso into triangle pose, the glottis in my throat as I make my breath hotter and faster in “breath of fire”—we lie in complete relaxation. We’re invited to experience death in corpse pose. It lasts up to fifteen minutes, usually in complete darkness and silence. It’s considered poor etiquette to get up and leave in the middle of savasana, which would disturb the experience of death, obviously. Good yogis leave before or after.

I glance toward Mark for a cue. We lie next to each other, close enough, sweaty enough, and breathless enough that we could have just had sex. He is staring at me. His liquid-soft brown eyes are unblinking and hungry. My groin blushes hot, and I am instantly wet. I roll my hips slightly from side to side, and his gaze drifts down to the top of my yoga pants. I close my eyes, enjoying the deliciousness of being exactly what he wants. Yoga, when done correctly, quiets the mind. Whether it’s the yoga that did it or Mark, my inner monologue has stopped, and I feel only desire for him.

When class is finally over, we push our mats into jelly-roll coils. Other students shuffle, whisper thank-yous, and zip up their coats to head home. Thinking of the Ashtanga series makes me think of the series of poses that Mark and I will cycle through tonight.

* * *

I wake up in Mark’s Midtown studio the way one-night stands always end. We are back-to-back, with a wide strip of space between us as a reminder of what he owes me: absolutely nothing. The sex was good. It wasn’t like getting Groundhog Day–slammed by some twenty-something who thinks he’s the shit because at some point he rubs your clitoris. Mark kissed slowly. His oral was soft and specific. I actually came. He held my legs straight up, perpendicular to my waist, and just stared at my genitals while we fucked.

Genitals is exactly the right word to use here, because the sex wasn’t personal. Well, except for the one moment when he groaned that I was “fucking amazing at yoga.”

Alarm sounds jingle from Mark’s phone.

He lumbers out of bed toward the bathroom. Shower water hits marble. Sitting up, I see the place has a first-apartment feel: barely any furniture, and what’s there looks secondhand. It’s a little understated for someone paying forty dollars for an hour of yoga. I fish my phone out of my gym bag and scroll through the mailbox: fifty-two new work emails since I last checked six hours ago. It’s 8:12 a.m.

“Legz,” he says.

His playful tone suggests the z.

“Markz,” I parrot.

He emerges, lower body toweled and bare chest defined beneath a white tee.

“Coffee?” he asks.

“No, thanks,” I say. I do want coffee, but being given something so soon after sex makes it feel like a payment.

“I have Colombian beans,” he says. “I’ll grind them right now.”

“No, really.”

“You’re right, dinner is much better than coffee,” he says. I can’t help but smile. “All right, all right. You win. You beat me down. Dinner it is.”

“Wow, you give up so easy.”

“I know, right? I’ll cook. Red or white?”

“Neither, I don’t really drink.”

“Well, that’s what you get for meeting a girl at a yoga class,” he says. “I had a feeling my next girlfriend would be a do-gooder.”

“Oh my God.”

“Too much charm?” he asks. “I know. I’m cursed.”

I head to the bathroom and change quickly, no time for a shower. I give myself a once-over, nervous enough that I might actually like this alpha asshole. My blond hair looks dry and stiff at the ends from too much flat-ironing. I finger-brush away a couple of clumps and rub the ends to grease them with the natural oils from my hands. My light eyebrows, almost as pale as my skin, disappear into my forehead. In my T.J. Maxx suit, I look like Taylor Swift would if she had a day job as a tax attorney.

Mark and I step over a paper copy of the Wall Street Journal outside his door and ride the elevator down. He is dressed sharply in a suit—so sharply that I do a double take. His gleaming loafers look like new Berlutis that could cost up to two thousand dollars. We pass a Pink store, where his crisp dress shirt matches the one in the window display. His blue jacket fits perfectly, as if he is a Patrick Bateman double. To top it all off, his skin is better than mine. His face is clear and moisturized to the point of actual dewiness.

“Are you an actor or something?” I ask.

“No, why?”

“Your suit,” I say, gesturing.

Is nicer than your apartment.

“Just showing you my range,” he says.

He raises his hand to hail me a cab.

“Oh, no thanks,” I say. Anderson Shaw’s headquarters shines just a couple of blocks away. “I’ll walk.”

“I insist,” he says. “My treat.”

“No, really,” I say.

“All right,” he says. “See you tonight.”

He lowers his hand to grab my ass.

“Goodbye now,” he says.

We start to walk in the same direction and I pretend not to notice. Phone in hand, I sift through emails, back in my default state of skimming and replying “Will do.” I only look up at the final intersection, where I stand face-to-face with Anderson’s headquarters on the other side of the street. Mark is still beside me, zoned into his phone as well. Green light. We meet each other’s eyes as we cross the street. He looks puzzled until it dawns on him, and instantly, all of his ass-cupping warmth vanishes.

He picks up his pace. My mouth stays shock-locked in one surprise O. Mark who? Mark fucking who? I slow my walk until he is three or four paces ahead. My heart clogs my throat. Yellow cabs whiz past me to unload today’s batch of bankers, traders, and equity researchers. Mark’s coattails almost blend into the ID-swiping crowd of backs in the lobby, but I keep my eyes on him.

He passes the first bank of elevators. The second and final bank leads only to the fifteenth floor, a transportation hub known as the Sky Lobby. On either side of me, elevators are constantly arriving or leaving. They obey Anderson’s unspoken rule where, once a car is half-full, someone will thumb-jab the door-close button two hard, fuck you times. The self-selected fuck you–er of Mark’s elevator acts fast. The shining silver doors close.

Hundreds of suits roll through the palatial Sky Lobby. The right side of the enormous atrium is a seamless floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Manhattan. The left side is lined with more elevator banks where, instead of hitting buttons inside the elevator, you enter your floor number into a calculator-type keypad stationed to one side of the bank and are assigned to an elevator—F6, or G8, as the case may be. Mark’s head bobs through the crowd to my bank. I am just seconds behind him. Limply, I press the same numbers he did, vaguely noting that the buttons are still warm from his fingertips. We are assigned to the same elevator headed to the same floor: thirty-five, dedicated to Healthcare banking.

* * *

There aren’t many devout yogis in my line of work—and I won’t be here for long. The plan is to complete a two-hundred-hour yoga-teacher training and then teach full-time after my two-year analyst contract expires (T-minus two months to go). I’ve been dedicated to a serious yoga practice since college, but I signed with Anderson before I decided to turn the hobby into a job. Hence my current situation. For now, I live as much as I can by credos like “All you need is less” while pulling all-nighters and nodding along in whose-dick-is-bigger conversations comparing deals and bonuses.

I am a second-year investment banking analyst at Anderson Shaw. On my résumé, that means I build financial models from scratch, strategize for powerhouse executives, and prepare materials for the M&A deals headlining the Wall Street Journal. In reality, I spend up to twenty-four hours a day changing the colors on stacked bar charts, making my bosses feel better about themselves, and, as of last night, literally fucking a coworker.

Half of my job is making “pitch books.” Senior bankers carry these to sales meetings with clients in order to convince the CEO on the other side of the table to do some kind of deal. Bankers pitch all kinds of deals: buy a company in the same sector “for scale,” or buy a company in a different sector “to diversify,” and then use proceeds to fuel more deals in a never-ending flywheel of shit for me to do. To create the sales pitch, we make line graphs, schematics, and financial model outputs. Then we work on the deal itself, once the CEO agrees, Yes, we would be a better company if we had half as much cash on the balance sheet Who wants that much cash anyway? Not fucking us.

At the moment, I’m waiting with Mark and another analyst for F3. Those phonetics sum it up: F3. Eff me. The analyst between us is known for always looking like a complete mess. Her black eyeliner is constantly smudged as if she’s been wearing the same makeup for weeks or crying about some work-related catastrophe. Today, her skirt is beyond wrinkled, again.

“Rough night?” she asks me.

Mark’s eyes dart toward us.

“Sort of,” I say.

If she thinks I look bad, then I am so fucked. The three of us file into the elevator and blink up to the thirty-fifth floor. Everyone laser-eyes their phone.

The doors open, and Mark and I split in opposite directions. I head to the pantry for coffee. Every banking floor looks the same: shared desks down one side and window offices down the other. It has the feel of a two-lane highway where one lane is made of dirt and the other is paved and tree-lined. Each of the shared desks seats four—two facing two, without any physical divider—and is known as a “pod,” meant for analysts, associates, and vice presidents. The all-glass offices are for senior vice presidents and managing directors.

I throw the coffee back like an eight-ounce shot and head to my desk. Turns out, Mark’s office is right before Real Estate, the only other group on thirty-five, and out of sight from my pod on the other side of the floor. His broad back faces me as he takes in the view from his power nest. He grabs his hips, elbows wide, and juts his pelvis forward. I scurry unnoticed to safety.

Fuck. It is 9 a.m. and I am living in a nightmare. I am never here this early, and no other desk-dweller is either. I wait for the three other bankers in my pod: there’s Chloe, the emotionless fake blonde from Dartmouth who Instagrammed herself on a partner’s G5 with the hashtag #likeaG5; Puja, the heiress whose father owns one of the biggest private banks in India, and who grew up using a credit card with her last name—the bank’s name—printed on the front; and Tripp, the devil-may-care associate known for keeping an earbud in his right ear and watching Netflix on one of his two computer screens all day. This is a habit he began as an intern while sitting next to a vice president.

At the desk, I navigate to Anderson Shaw’s internal facebook. There is one Mark in Healthcare: Mark Thomas Swift, whose profile picture matches Markz’s exactly. He just transferred into HG from Equity Capital Markets, another Anderson Shaw banking group, as a managing director. Today is his first day.

I immediately start to internet-stalk Mark: Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, fucking everything. He has a couple of photos on New York Social Diary, but those thumbnails are too small to reveal much. His Facebook is private. LinkedIn corroborates his AS employment, but otherwise his profile is empty, like that of anyone who’s not looking for another job. At least his Instagram is public. His posts are geotagged—the Loeb Boathouse, Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all for black-tie events. I hover over a picture of him standing alone and illuminated by floor lights at Avenue. The caption reads: “Charity—#Yellowstone #JayGatz.” Did he just compare himself to the Great Gatsby? I’m more concerned he felt the need to abbreviate “Gatsby” like a college bro. As I scroll deeper into summertime posts, the geotags become Jackson Hole, Aspen, and Montauk Point. It is a hyperbolically sceney Instagram. I don’t think he has been anywhere expensive without taking a picture of it.

You know what? This guy doesn’t give a shit about yoga.

Fingernails rap my desk, finding the only wooden oasis in the mess of papers.

“Hello,” Mark says.

He doesn’t look me in the eye. He seems to be checking if anyone else is around, and no one is. Junior people are commuting or sleeping, and senior people are tucked into their glass enclaves. Mark walks around to stand behind my monitors, which display in a horizontally tiled sequence: his Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google-searched name. Every analyst has two desktop monitors, and his internet identity is smeared across both of mine. I corner-X out of every window as fast as humanly possible.

“Allegra,” he says.

“Yes?” I squeak.

“Let’s be mature about this,” he says. He strides away.

What does that even mean? He turns the corner, leaving me alone with his ambiguous decree. Should that go on my to-do list for, like, my job? I open Microsoft Outlook to get on with the day. Now, on top of everything else, I feel an urge to reflect on my fucking life. Like, how did things get this out of control? Maybe Mark was right when he called me rotten. Maybe I’ll never be the yogi I want to be and, really, at my core, I’m just an Anderson piece of shit.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Breathe In, Cash Out includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Madeleine Henry. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In this sizzling debut for fans of The Devil Wears Prada, Wall Street banking analyst Allegra Cobb plans to quit the minute her year-end bonus hits her account, finally pursuing her yoga career full-time. But when she forms an intense relationship with the #InstaFamous guru who may hold the ticket to the life Allegra's always wanted—she's not sure if she'll be able to keep her sanity intact (and her chakras aligned) until bonus day.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The novel starts with Skylar asking the question “Are you okay?” (p. 1). Why do you think Madeleine Henry chose to begin the novel this way? What does this scene accomplish?

2. Allegra’s dispassionate night with Mark leads to an uncomfortable morning. What does this sequence of events tell us about Allegra?

3. Allegra’s colleagues Chloe and Puja are described as “the emotionless fake blonde” and “the heiress,” respectively (p. 11). They play a large role in the book. Do you think they serve as foils? If so, how do they enhance the various aspects of Allegra’s story?

4. How does the banking lifestyle—the grueling hours and the high pressure—come across in this novel? Does it match what you believed about the financial world before you began the book?

5. Allegra and her colleagues spend a lot of their time concerned about Bonus Day. Do you think this incentivizes them to work harder? Or is it just a reality of the job that they expect?

6. Of her dad, Allegra discloses, “When I was young it made him happy whenever I talked like him or won anything. In general, he thinks the world is way too politically correct and way too sensitive: he wasn’t going to raise a wimp” (p. 17). He equates her prestigious job with success. Do you think he will come to accept another metric for success as Allegra strikes out on her own?

7. The book includes nontraditional narrative forms like emails and Instagram comments. Why do you think Madeleine chose to include these? How do they enhance the story?

8. Skylar’s pseudo-mentor relationship with Allegra is a huge part of the book. How does Skylar earn Allegra’s trust?

9. Tripp is introduced as “the devil-may-care associate known for keeping an earbud in his right ear and watching Netflix on one of his two computer screens all day” (p. 11). How does he change throughout the novel? What do you consider the turning point in Tripp and Allegra’s friendship?

10. Different characters have distinct views on money and income. How is the meaning of money different for Mark, Tripp, and Allegra?

11. Vivienne and Allegra have a tense relationship, although it softens by the end of the novel. What do you think Vivienne represents?

12. The novel leaves the reader with the impression that the yoga world can be as cutthroat as the banking world. How does this contrast with the idea of yoga as a stress-reducing activity?

13. At Anderson Shaw, Allegra technically works on a “team.” In the end, Allegra becomes a free agent. How does this novel portray working in groups in a corporate setting?

14. The book explores a common tension between one’s desire to fulfill personal dreams and the reality of having to earn a living. Is the novel optimistic about resolving this challenge?

15. At the end of the novel, Allegra succeeds in manifesting her vision for her life. What personal limitations did she have to overcome in order to accomplish this?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Think back to your first job. Did you love it? Hate it? Was it in an industry entirely different from your current job? Discuss these experiences with your group.

2. In the novel, Allegra and her coworkers play a game, Whose Life Sucks Most. Try playing a round with your book club. Or try the opposite game, Whose Life Doesn’t Suck Most.

3. Allegra says her dad “supplied me with a steady stream of quotes to keep me in a ‘winner’s mind-set,’ including, ‘Winners do what losers won’t’” (p. 24). In your own experience, are mantras useful devices? Discuss whether there are any mind-set phrases that members of the book club try to live by?

4. The novel depicts Instagram as a tool that can sometimes be deceiving. Have members of the group had any notable positive or negative experiences with the app?

5. Visit author Madeleine Henry’s Instagram @MadeleineHenryYoga for more information about her yoga practice and the book.

A Conversation with Madeleine Henry

You worked in finance right out of college. How did that job inform this novel? How does Allegra’s experience differ from your own?

This book—its setting at Anderson Shaw, the lifestyles of its characters, the conversations they have at the pod—paints a realistic picture of working on Wall Street today.

I worked at Goldman Sachs and then in investment management primarily in healthcare in New York City. Almost all of my friends worked in finance or consulting right after college. Those experiences gave me a feel for what can reasonably happen in that environment. I wanted the Wall Street backdrop of this story to feel authentic, and my history allowed me to create that. Now, anyone who’s worked in finance can read this book and enjoy amusing moments of Yep, that nails it, and That happened to me.

That being said, Allegra’s story is not my personal story. For example, I didn’t start practicing yoga until after I left investment banking, so I never had to try and reconcile the two worlds at the same time. Also, how many f-bombs do I drop on a daily basis? Way fewer than Allegra. Like, wayyy fewer.

So much of this novel focuses on Allegra’s relationships with her colleagues—both at Anderson Shaw and in the yoga world—instead of on romantic relationships. Was that something you were particularly sensitive to as you wrote the novel?

I wasn’t trying to avoid romantic relationships as a subject. My book reflects the reality that Wall Street isn’t a very romantic place. I believe the phrase “it takes time to fall in love,” and people in these all-consuming, fast-track professions are time-poor. They often don’t have enough time to fall in love. So, you can end up with long-term relationships on pause (e.g., Chloe and Charles) or random flings (e.g., Allegra’s with Mark and Hillary). Yes, Allegra’s relationship with Tripp deepens, but her primary focus is work, as it is for most people in her shoes.

What was your favorite scene to write? Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult?

I loved writing the scene at Yoga Cyclone where Allegra teaches a class to her coworkers. That sequence is hysterical because it encapsulates the clash of worlds at the heart of this book: yoga versus finance. In this studio devoted to health, aparigraha (non-possessiveness), and humility, enters a squad of investment bankers trying to make as much money as possible so they can buy Ferraris and big Hamptons houses. I took an English class in college where the teacher taught us that “humor is incongruity.” The incongruity of this book is at a peak in that scene.

On the other hand, I found all intimacy between Allegra and Mark (her married boss) hard to write because it feels so wrong. It’s hard to write about things I personally find immoral.

This novel satirizes the banking and yoga worlds. Is satire a genre that you’re often drawn to?

I choose genres that relate to what I’m currently writing about, so I can learn from how others approached the topic. My second book is a love story, and it’s more heartfelt and tender, so right now I’m drawn to delicate, emotional stories and poems . . . More about that in the last question. J

Yoga and finance are seemingly disparate worlds. How did you balance your interest in both while writing this book?

I believe we need to feed our souls in order to feel happy. While I was working in finance, yoga and writing were the outlets I needed to do that. So, yes, it was hard to make time for everything, but it would have been a lot harder without them in my life.

This novel paints an unhealthy portrait of life as an investment banking analyst. How true to life do you think this is? As more companies try to invest in wellness initiatives, do you see any change happening?

Breathe In, Cash Out is realistic. The fact is that investment banking is a strenuous job and so banks have rolled wellness initiatives (e.g., forbidding bankers from being in the office on weekends) to improve the lifestyle. In my own social circle, however, I don’t know anyone who has had a dramatic change in his or her life as a result.

Do you have any favorite books that inspired you in the writing of this one?

There is a little bit of The Catcher in the Rye in here, in the sense that both books involve an “I” narrator who dismisses virtually everyone else. Where Holden Caulfield calls people “phonies,” Allegra might call them “assholes.”

There is also a little bit of Gary Shteyngart’s Lake Success, as both satirize the financial world. Ben Stiller joins Shteyngart to ask in the book trailer, “Hey are you white? Are you a male? Did you play lacrosse at one of these fourteen schools [Harvard, Cornell, Duke, Brown, Georgetown, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, Princeton University, UPenn, Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth]? Then the exciting world of hedge funds might be right for you.”

But what made Breathe In, Cash Out so exciting to work on was that I thought that it was unlike anything I’d read before. To me, it’s a very brave book. Allegra speaks truth to finance power, and it’s very cool to see someone serve up real talk to a Goliath in our society.

Yoga is a very personal practice and yet so much of this novel illuminates the social media (mostly Instagram) component that has become so huge. How do you think we (and Allegra) can balance the very personal with the very public?

It’s hard for me to view any intentionally shared content as personal. There can be an illusion of voyeurism, but everyone who posts chose to do so. They’ve invited you into that moment with them. So, I have to believe that the only really personal moments are the unshared ones. Everyone has their own formula to dictate which those should be.

Aside from personal/public, another interesting contrast on Instagram is introvert/extrovert. I’ve noticed the app can be an emboldening tool, where introverts can act more extroverted than they do in real life. I’m friends with another yogi Instagrammer who has a million followers and, despite her omnipresence online, she describes herself as a quiet loner. I think this is because the app allows you to share information about yourself without ever putting you on the spot and, in a way, no one else is really there. So, introverts can feel more comfortable.

We’ve spent the last several years reckoning with toxic work cultures for women. Where, if at all, do you see this novel and Allegra’s experience fitting into that?

I know there’s been a wave of “Me Too” novels, but I didn’t intend this novel to be one of them.

Where did the game of Whose Life Sucks Most come from?

Bankers love to hate their jobs. For some reason, banking culture grants you more social status the more overworked and miserable you are. So, at the junior level, everyone is always complaining—so much so that, one day, it occurred to me that people were already playing this game. I just gave it a name.

We’ve outlined several differences between banking and yoga. Do you think they share any similarities?

Counterintuitively, in New York City, both tend to involve affluent people. Yoga is free, but urbanites have turned it into an expensive hobby: each class can cost forty dollars, special outfits up to two hundred dollars each, and retreats can cost thousands.

What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

First: entertainment. I hope people enjoy the audacity of Allegra’s inner monologue which speaks truth to power. Second: education. For people who want to know what investment banking feels like, Breathe In, Cash Out is it.

What’s next for you?

My second novel, which has the working title The Love Proof, is part love story, part exploration of space and time. I imagine it for fans of The Notebook, The Secret, and The Alchemist.

I’m excited about the transition from Breathe In, Cash Out to The Love Proof because it reflects a duality that’s often taught in yoga: head and heart. The head symbolizes ego, fear, and selfishness bred from a false sense of scarcity. Breathe In, Cash Out is very head. It takes place entirely in Allegra’s mind. It’s about Wall Street. Most characters are just trying to get rich. But the heart involves intuition, sharing, and the human potential to do good and be good to each other. The Love Proof is more heart. It’s full of soul and very visceral.

I’m really excited to share both. J
About The Author
Photograph by Lucy Brown Armstrong

Madeleine Henry worked at Goldman Sachs and in investment management in New York City. She graduated from Yale in 2014 where she wrote comedy for The Yale Record, America’s oldest college humor magazine. Now working on her second novel, she shares more information about her life, writing, and yoga practice on @MadeleineHenryYoga. Breathe In, Cash Out is her debut.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Atria Books (July 2019)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982114534

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Raves and Reviews

"As a blessedly former financial analyst at Salomon Brothers, reading Breathe In, Cash Out gave me shudders of PTSD. The untenable lifestyle, the claustrophobia of the job, and the risks to one’s personal health are drawn so realistically — this is a portrait of the devil in Big Finance, which promises untold riches in return for serving an inhumane master. Allegra’s fictional story is raw, unnerving, and sadly, very true."
—Jodi Picoult, New York Times Bestselling Author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light

"Madeleine Henry’s Breathe In, Cash Out, is a satirical romance, or, perhaps, a romantic satire, that improbably and hilariously juxtaposes the worlds of investment banking and yoga, sparing neither.  Her portrait of the ambitious, sleep-deprived, paranoid peons of Wall Street, and their tyrannical masters, is brilliantly observed.  This is a very stylish and entertaining debut."
—Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City

"Breathe In, Cash Out is a complete delight. Madeleine Henry’s writing is funny and as bracing as her heroine’s daily caffeine intake (which is insane). But this novel is more than entertainment: it's a compelling, thoughtful story about how women work today--our ambitions, our uncertainties, and the pressures we’re under to please others as much as ourselves. Henry probes these issues with wit and warmth and a keen eye for the absurd. The result is a modern fairytale, a romance that’s not about finding the right guy, but finding yourself."
—Eliza Kennedy, author of I Take You and Do This for Me

“Madeleine Henry's new book, Breathe In, Cash Out, is a terrific read. It's a fun and fresh window into the somewhat sadistic, highly competitive worlds of investment banking—and yoga.”
—Bethany McLean, New York Times Bestselling Coauthor of The Smartest Guys in the Room

"Debut author Henry has a background in both investment banking and yoga, and she imbues the story with believable and horrific details that perfectly illustrate how cutthroat and all-consuming the world of banking is… A sharp and funny look at an unhappy woman's quest to manifest a better life.”  
Kirkus Reviews

“Perfect for fans of fiction about women who ditch the cutthroat to follow their passion.”
Booklist

"If you’re deep in the dating scene, crushing your career goals, and having a blast, you won’t be able to put down this story of a young woman juggling her priorities while living and working in New York City."
—Elite Daily

“For when you want the ultimate beach read... Enter Madeleine Henry’s, “Breathe In, Cash Out.” It’s “The Devil Wears Prada,” meets Wall Street. All about what happens to a straight-A Ivy League grad who dreams of launching her own yoga practice. The hold up? She has to quit her very high-stress banking job. Get ready for the ohmmmms.”
—The Skimm

“Debut novelist Henry, who has firsthand experience in investment management and yoga, delivers an awesomely titled tale that is, without a doubt, an addition to the chick lit oeuvre: imagine Andy from The Devil Wears Prada and Bridget Jones meeting for cocktails… The wit that pervades Allegra's search for #bliss and the requisite quirky supporting cast make this a fab read for chick lit fans.”
—Library Journal

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