First! Holly’s also posting today at the Bubblebath Reader! Check out her post about life as a graduate student in real life and in fiction! Are you reading the Garden Intrigue along with us?
Oh! You Pretty Things, Shanna Mahin
Published April 14th 2015 by Dutton
Hardcover, 368 pages
Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss
Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking.
Enter Jess’s mother—a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter’s downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade.
As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet.
When her food garners the attention of an actress on the rise, well, she’s all too willing to throw it in with the composer and upgrade again, a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications that could explode all her relationships.
All the while, her mother looms ever closer, forcing Jess to confront the traumatic secrets she’s been running from all her life.
Oh! You Pretty Things is a dizzying ride at the carnival of fame, a fast-paced and sharply funny work that dares to imagine what happens when we go over the top in a town of gilded excess.
This was a delightfully snarky and funny book. Jess lives at the edge of Hollywood and like so many others desperately wants to be part of the inside world of the stars. She doesn’t actually want to be an actor, but she wants in on the glitz and the glamour. I really liked Jess! She lives with her best-friend who is an up and coming actress and they were great together. I love reading about friendships that feel real and are supportive and encouraging – and those that make it through mistakes. I think the relationship between Jess and Megan was my favorite thing about this book.
In the opposite of a healthy relationship we have Jess and her mother, Donna. Donna was determined to make Jess into a child star and when that failed she pretty much washed her hands of parenthood. Donna begins circling closer and closer to Jess as she gains access to celebrities leaving Jess living in fear of how her mom might poison the life she’s created. I felt myself cringing every time they interacted I was so nervous for Jess! I loved the family that Jess built herself in contrast to what she had with her mother.
For a book about a girl who wants celebrity this had much more depth than I expected, but Jess still didn’t take herself too seriously. This debut was a good look at some of the grime behind the glitz of stardom and the real people that live in L.A. I will definitely look forward to seeing what else Shanna Mahin writes.
Thank you Dutton and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.