Thursday, November 1, 2018

Book 153: Spoiled



"Brooke closed her eyes and exhaled. It was bad enough that Ginevra's pleasantly nasty little shoe-related blind item had been canceled out by Molly's popular appearance in the latest issue of Hey! Between the fact that her actors were operating at straight-to-DVD levels and all the gushy comments she'd heard lately about Molly's eyes, or her clothes, or that heinous backpack, Brooke's nerves were as frayed as a pair of tights on Taylor Momsen. She'd even been seen eating chips in public. Like a commoner."

Dates read: June 18-21, 2017

Rating: 6/10

My sister is one of my best friends. But it wasn't always that way. When I first found out I was getting a sister, I was...not excited. As a pathological attention seeker from the very beginning, I was perfectly happy to be an only child thank you very much. Not too long after she was born, my mom saw me carrying my sister toward the kitchen. When she asked me where I was going, I told her I was going to throw Amelia in the garbage can because she cried too much. Informed that this was not an option, I argued for a return to the hospital. The presiding judge/my mom ruled against me. It didn't get a lot better until I went to college and we were out of each other's hair and then we realized we actually rather liked each other and though of course we still fight because we're sisters and I've never been one to let someone be wrong without making sure they know they are, she's a deeply important part of my life.

If normal circumstances like mine lead to sibling rivalry, finding out when you're already 16 that you have a sister you never knew about, who's the same age as you, would be rough. In Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan's debut novel, Spoiled, they introduce us to Brooke Berlin, only daughter of Hollywood mega-star Brick Berlin. Brooke longs to be an actor and see her face in all the magazines like her dad and is gleefully planning the Sweet 16 party that will be her social debut...when she finds out that she's not actually Brick's only daughter. Right before he met and married Brooke's mother, Kelly, he had a fling with Laurel, a costume designer on a movie set, and only found out about her pregnancy after Kelly was pregnant too. Laurel went back to Indiana and raised her daughter, Molly, to believe that her father was a military man who died before she was born. But Molly finds out the truth just before Laurel passes away, and finds herself on her way to Los Angeles to live the father and sister she never knew.

That all probably makes this sound kind of heavy, but it's really not. What transpires from there is straight out of 90s/00s high school movie mashup heaven...Brooke and Molly squabble, and Molly finds herself in the middle of a long-standing rivalry between her spoiled brat of a sister and Shelby, the daughter of a tabloid king. She also finds herself torn between her long-time, on-again-off-again hometown boyfriend and the cute boy at her tony new prep school. All this set against the sisters being forced to work together on a production of My Fair Lady. The drama!

I've been a longtime reader and fan of Cocks and Morgan, who write one of my favorite blogs on the internet: Go Fug Yourself. They're very steeped in Hollywood and fashion, given that they write about those things literally every day, and have developed an irreverent, snarky-without-being-mean tone that worked perfectly for this little snack of a YA novel. There are all kinds of little details that are delightful: that Brooke's best friend is named Arugula, Brick's dim-bulb bon mots, a daft football player and his perky blonde girlfriend that are obviously heavily inspired by Kevin and Brittany from Daria. Coming off of reading two heavily-fact-based nonfiction books about Serious Issues, the breeziness of Spoiled really hit the spot. It's kind of like a candy bar: tasty and gone quickly and not especially memorable.

I know they were trying to ground their story in real emotions, but that the whole story takes off from Molly's mother's relatively sudden death from cancer doesn't really work. That this is very much a secondary plot point kind of strains credulity. A 16 year-old just mostly moving on from the death of her only parent without much in the way of emotional trauma? Although it's their feelings about their missing mothers (Brooke's mother has had no contact with her daughter at all in the years since her divorce from Brick) that ultimately forms the glue that bonds Molly and Brooke together in the end (spoiler, but not really because if you can see their reunification coming right from the beginning of their feud), I wish they'd found another way to force Molly out to California because it's jarring every time you're reminded of it. It's a significant false note in what's otherwise a catchy little ditty. Otherwise, this is a fun, silly, light book perfect for when you need an easy read.

One year ago, I was reading: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (review to come)

Two years ago, I was reading: The Queen of the Night

Three years ago, I was reading: Primitive Mythology

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