Friday, September 20, 2013

Double Feature Book Review: Books written by actresses

By Melissa Amster

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Being a fan of Smash and Glee, this novel definitely held my interest. I enjoyed reading about the audition process and acting classes. I liked that Lauren Graham gave a realistic feel of how difficult it is for someone to make it big in the city that doesn't sleep. For every "up," there are several "downs." I found the time setting choice of 1995 interesting. I'm sure it's because that's the time period when Lauren was first auditioning to be an actress, but it's also hard to visualize NYC the way it was back then. The lack of cell phones and social media made for other challenges that Franny had to work with. The only thing that really gave it a 90s feel was the pop culture references peppered throughout the story. I also could have done without her weekly calendar entries. Overall, it was a light and cute story that had a Stacey Ballis feel. It brought up some interesting points and didn't tie everything up into a neat little bow, leaving readers guessing what could possibly happen next for Franny.

Thanks to Ballantine Books for the book in exchange for an honest review.

When it Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald mines the complexities of modern relationships in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories. Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors while they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life—revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

In "The Harvest Moon," a stay-at-home mom grapples with age, infertility, and an increasingly distant husband. In "Ursa Minor," a former children's television star tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for "exhaustion." An elderly woman mourns the loss of her husband and her estranged relationship with her daughter in "The Little One." In "My Olivia," a single mother finds untapped reserves of strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son who wishes only to wear dresses and be addressed as Olivia. And in the devastating title story, a betrayed wife chronicles her pain and alienation, leading to an eviscerating denouement.

As the lives of these characters converge and diverge in unexpected ways, Ringwald reveals a startling eye for the universality of loss, love, and the search for connection. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I read this novel earlier in the year for my book club and it brought up a lot of interesting discussion topics. It is definitely something that would appeal to chick lit readers, so I wanted to share my thoughts about it at CLC. I was very impressed with Molly Ringwald's writing style. It is engaging and has great use of description and detail. She accesses real feelings with an honest approach, making her characters seem very genuine and vulnerable. I liked how they were connected between the different stories and I was able to keep up with their lives, even when someone else was in the spotlight. The only thing that didn't work as well was when she switched narrators within a story. It became confusing when that happened. When it Happens to You is really good throughout and definitely something you'll want to check out.

More books written by actresses:

6 comments:

Melanie Backus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melanie Backus said...

Both of the books sound oh so interesting! The creative juices in these two actresses and authors just keeps on flowing.

mauback55 at gmail dot com

kaewink said...

I read Someday, Someday, Maybe beginning of summer and loved it. Really recommending it! Light and fun with a serious touch!

AiringMyDirtyLaundry said...

I LOVE Lauren Graham so I quickly got my hands on her book. I liked it.

I need to read Molly Ringwald's!

Kerry said...

I LOOOVVEED Someday, Someday, Maybe. As a current professional actress living in nyc, it was extra special and hysterical. Her calendars were my favorite parts because they're all the locations that I go to for auditions - so it was a cool connection to have. Plus, it really showed the ups and downs of being an actor. Weeks full of things only to then have nothing for the next few weeks after that. I can't wait to see the show, if it gets picked up.

Amie Lout said...

I adore Lauren Graham she is fantastic on Parenthood so it would be interesting to see what molded her in a way. I was here looking for some books to gift for Christmas, I will gift this one to myself! I would recommend since I am here if anyone is looking for some great book ideas for gifts Barbara Ward has 2 that are my absolute favs right now. She has The Reindeer Keeper and The Snowman Maker. They are sappy stories that are quick reads but they tug at you! Her info at barbarabriggsward.com. They are worth a look, I got a bunch to gift!