I first heard about this book back when it was first published, because I used to be a religious follower of The Fug Girls, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.1 I love YA fiction, obviously2, so I figured I would get around to reading this eventually.
Four years later…
So I finally read the book3. I like the style; it has a sort of Meg Cabot vibe to it.4 It’s like the lovechild of Meg Cabot, The Hills, and Days of Our Lives. Funny and sometimes eye-rollingly melodramatic, with lots of Hollywood glamour and tabloid fare mixed in.
The plot centers around Molly Dix, whose mother, Laurel5, has recently died from cancer. As someone who has lost a parent to cancer, I got a little emotional while reading the opening chapters. I could really relate to the way TFG6 described Molly’s mindset, mostly because I could remember the feeling of walking around in a haze for a good six months. I think if I had read this book as a sixteen-year-old, I wouldn’t have been as affected by those scenes, even though it was closer in time to his death, but as I get older, I find myself more easily upset by that kind of thing.
Anyway, before Laurel dies, she tells Molly that the man she knew as her (dead) father was actually a character from a novel Laurel was reading while she was pregnant, and her real father is famous Hollywood actor Brick Berlin, whom Laurel met and fell for when she handled wardrobe on one of his early films. Brick and Molly get in touch, and Brick invites her to live with him and his daughter, Brooke7, at their mansion in Los Angeles, so as to give Molly’s grandparents the chance to enjoy their retirement. Brooke schemes from the very start to scare Molly into returning to Indiana, but eventually they get over their mutual animosity and start to feel sisterly toward one another, until Brooke accidentally leaks something personal about Molly to a tabloid and Molly runs away to Indiana, leaving Brick and Brooke no choice but to go after her.
The dialogue in this book is hysterical. Brick’s manner of speaking, in particular, is so over-the-top cringeworthy, but it’s funny to imagine a buff action-movie star saying things like, “I’ve been waiting to meet you all your life, Molly. And now that you’re here, I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain, sweet child of mine!”8 Brick is definitely a caricature of the super wealthy, health-conscious, L.A. glitterati; he’s always doing weird exercises, he categorically refuses to eat carbs, he has a hypnotherapist, for christ’s sake!
Then there’s Brooke. This is a girl who named her personal assistant Brie because “cheese is so in right now!” Her best friend’s name is Arugula. Brooke is the other POV character in the book, and she can be deliciously snarky and mean. I actually like her better when she’s being outwardly mean than I do when she’s being sickeningly sweet to Molly, even though Molly is adorable and being mean to her is just unthinkable. Favorite Brooke quote:
Brooke felt herself sway. She had wanted a sister… when she was eight, and needed to learn how to French-braid hair. But now it seemed pointless, superfluous. Like Solange Knowles.
Way harsh, Brooke.
Like most YA books, most things would be resolved quickly if everyone just friggin’ communicated with each other, but what would we do without any dramatic tension? This is a great first release by TFG, though, and I enjoyed the world-building—the descriptions of all the amazing clothes everyone wears, the different parts of Los Angeles9, and the skewering of L.A. social attitudes was really well done. I just ordered the sequel, Messy, and I look forward to reading it soon. (Not to mention their newest release, The Royal We!)
You can pick up a copy of Spoiled here.
- After I wrote this sentence, I went and looked at all of their SAG Awards and Golden Globes coverage for a full hour and a half. Oops.
- I have an entire bookcase that’s just YA fiction. The other two bookcases are for Serious Adult Books and my DVD collection.
- I started it yesterday on my commute to work, and finished it at lunch today. It’s 360 pages, but the type is comparatively large and the dialogue is so quippy that you can get through several chapters without realizing it.
- Speaking of which—my copy of Remembrance should be arriving soon!
- I love this name. I also love the name Molly. I might need to add those to my list of potential baby names for the distant future. (Is it weird that I have a list of baby names saved on my computer????)
- The Fug Girls, because I’m not typing out “Cocks and Morgan” 12,000 times.
- Does anyone else think Brick Berlin and Brooke Berlin sound more like porn star names than Hollywood royalty?
- I thought to myself, “Did he actually sing Guns N’ Roses at her???”
- My only experience with L.A. was a two-hour layover between a flight from China and a flight to San Francisco. Having to go through border control, pick up my suitcases, literally run from the international terminal to the Southwest terminal while stress-crying and pushing 150 pounds of luggage, re-check myself in, and find a place to pee before getting on another plane… let’s just say I have bad memories of LAX.