Monday, April 13, 2015

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton (April 14, 2015)

What They Say.....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. 

What I Say....I really liked this book. A lot.  It's a great debut novel by an author to watch out for, if you like complicated characters living complicated lives.

Jess is kind of a mess.  Actually a hot mess.  She always seems either completely insecure or wildly overconfident.  She quits jobs before she has other jobs lined up.  She mouths off to her bosses, sometimes for imaginary slights rather than real ones.  Kind of like people I know in real life.

Jess's relationship with her mother is strained at best, totally dysfunctional at worst.  Her mother used her childhood to try to continually upgrade their life.  But although Jess tries to steer clear of her mother, she mimics the same behaviors in her own life, continually trying to upgrade to the better celebrity, better job, better friends.

The book is a bit disjointed, messy and emotional, but intensely readable.   Shanna Mahin is a great new talent.

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