“A Hollywood native from the wrong side of the Walk of Fame makes a play for star status” (Cosmopolitan) in Shanna Mahin’s acclaimed novel, called “quite a breakout” by The New York Times.
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.
There's an authentic nose-pressed-against-the-glass feel to Mahin's smart and funny debut, a spot-on poke at Hollywood celebrity and the longing that plays out in the fame factory. Jess, born and raised in Tinseltown, is the smart-aleck narrator who has a jaded view of the strivers who flock into Hollywood, yet she confesses her own vulnerability. "Maybe I'm not famous, but I'm famous-adjacent, and the glow from the heavy klieg lights is good enough for me," she says of her employment as an assistant to actress Eva Carlton. Her fame-centric stage-mom from hell, Donna, however, triggers all Jess's insecurities and anger at a childhood pushed toward careers she had no talent for and toward people who abused her. "She lost Mom' when I was fourteen," Jess explains to Eva about why she won't call Donna Mom. When best friend and actress Megan faces her own crisis of love, outsider Jess learns to embrace and forgive the people who really matter. There are numerous places in which this heartfelt tale of acceptance could have careened into schmaltz, but Mahin expertly steers clear, gently guiding Jess from "square zero" to home.
Oh! You pretty things
Awesome! I didn't want it to end.
This book started off cute and I couldn't put it down. Then it started getting long winded in the middle and all of a sudden it ended. I kept checking to see if there was a glitch that left out the rest of the chapters, but no. It just ended. I would assume from the ending that this is the first of a series, but I was left feeling like I wasted my time and money on a story that the author got tired of writing.