ELLEN BARKER at Books Inc. Mountain View

Author image of Ellen Barker and cover photo of her book Still Needs Work

Books Inc. Mountain View proudly welcomes Californian author Ellen Barker to the shop for a celebration of her new novel Still Needs Work!

When Marianne is abruptly laid off from her tech job during a recession, she’s forced to move back to the seedy Kansas City neighborhood she thought she’d left forever. As she applies for jobs in an industry that doesn’t value the middle-aged, Marianne must rally her inner strength to rebuild her life again.

Marianne gets the call while attending a conference in San Francisco: laid off, department dissolved. Two days later, she’s back home in the dicey Kansas City neighborhood she moved to after a reversal of fortune two years ago. After all this time rebuilding her life, it’s all collapsed.

The daily grind is just that—a grind. Until it isn’t, until it’s gone and taken health insurance, retirement contributions, and the currency to buy food and shelter, never mind the free coffee at the office, along with it. In the aftermath of her layoff, Marianne tries all the usual routes to re-employment, but a middle-aged woman, regardless of experience, has little job cred in the tech world, especially with an address in the heartland. A contract job at a Chicago startup morphs through two acquisitions in eight weeks. And then she’s mugged in her own neighborhood, which frightens her enough to consider a permanent move away.


“An incisive, warm take on juggling the realities of home, work, and income.”
Kirkus Reviews

“An insightful, compelling exploration of the challenges and intricacies in the current tech landscape . . . Still Needs Work by Ellen Barker is a relevant, immersive novel that explores the complexities of the corporate world through its true-to-life protagonist.”
Readers’ Favorite, 5-star review

 “The writing is crisp, perfectly befitting the personality of the protagonist, whose insights into the hidden messages and evasive mind-games of the corporate world are perfectly on target—even if that doesn't always work out in her favor. The character's inner voice is entertaining and insightful.”
—Diane Winger, author of the Ellie Dwyer series

“A realistic portrayal of how isolating, ruthless, and demoralizing the modern tech economy can be.”
—Mike Trigg, author of Bit Flip

“A well-written, satisfying story that will resonate for many readers.”
—Linda Moore, author of Attribution

“Ellen Barker’s wry sense of wit and amazing attention to detail draw the reader into the real-life dilemmas faced by her protagonist.”
—Jude Berman, author of The Healing Zone and The Die

“Barker tells her story with humor and a steadfast pace of overcoming adversity. This is a story of resilience and finding one’s way in life.”
—Nancy Chadwick, author of The Wisdom of the Willow and Under the Birch Tree


Ellen Barker grew up in Kansas City during a period of demographic upheaval and returns there in her novels. She has a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Washington University in Saint Louis, where she developed a passion for how cities work, and don't. She began her career as an urban planner and then spent many years working for large consulting firms, first as a writer-editor and later managing large data systems, jobs rich in corporate drama large and small. She is the author of East of Troost, which introduced readers to the neighborhood where Still Needs Work takes place. She now lives in Los Altos, California, with her husband and their German shepherd, Boris, who is the inspiration for the dog in this novel.

Event date: 
Tuesday, June 11, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Books Inc. Mountain View
317 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94041