Month: January 2016
This is Lauren Graham’s (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) debut novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe. For a first novel, this one is not bad, as I have not ever attempted to write one myself. But to be honest, I was disappointed.
The novel takes place in 1995. It is about Franny Banks, a young waitress struggling to become an actress in the Big Apple. She’s given herself a deadline, 3 years, to “make it” as an actress. However, her deadline is about up and all she has gotten is a lot of failed auditions and a couple of commercials.
Franny is accepted into a prestigious acting class where she meets some interesting people, one of whom, James Franklin, she starts to fall for. He is an experienced actor, who has done a few movies and she is in awe of him as an artist. Her roommates, Jane and Dan, encourage her acting career and try the best they can to be supportive.
The story is told in Franny’s voice, following her every thought and feeling about acting and whether or not she can make it. She often doubts herself and her talent, which is why she likes James so much because he believes in her. About half-way through the book, the story takes a turn when Dan, her sci-fi screenwriter roommate, professes his love for her after his fiance leaves him. This love triangle was too predictable and neither man seems right for Franny.
I was fond of the format of the novel. Every few chapters, the section would end with several day-planner entries of Franny’s week, such as her appointments, plays, and dates with James. Doodles and notes filled these pages. Each chapter also began with voicemail messages from people in Franny’s life, ending with the inevitable, “Beeeeep.”
I am a huge fan of Lauren Graham. Gilmore Girls and Parenthood are two of my favorite shows, which is why I was so excited to read her novel. But I was disappointed. I felt as if the novel was a made-up character living Lauren Graham’s experiences as a young actress. I have not read up a lot on Graham’s life, but I do know there were some similarities between her and the character of Franny. I would have been more satisfied if she had written a memoir or autobiography instead. I much prefer reading about an actor’s life than an actor writing about a character becoming an actor. But I applaud her bravery at writing such a novel and trying her hand at another art.
I give this novel a 2/5.
Out of the Easy was probably one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. I read Ruta Sepety’s first novel, Between Shades of Grey a couple of years ago in my young adult lit class in college and it was also quite the page turner. Sepety’s has a natural talent for research, and her novels reflect the time periods very well.
Josie is the daughter of a prostitute and has been living on her own since she was 11. She lives in the bookstore owned by her friend, Charlie and his son, Patrick. She works for them during the day and cleans the brothel in the mornings. The brothel is owned by the madam, Willie Woodley, who is sort of like an evil stepmother to Josie but with a kind heart.
Josie’s goal is to get out of the French Quarter (Louisiana during 1950) and go to college, but she has no money and according to Willie, she’s just “salted peanuts.” But when a strange, handsome man appears in the bookstore one day, Josie is mesmerized and she believes him to be her father (or at least wishes he was).
The mysterious man is killed that very night on New Year’s Eve and Josie finds his watch under her mother’s bed in the brothel. She is determined to find out how he died and why.
Another interesting mix in this murder mystery is the love triangle between Josie, Patrick, and the motorcycle driving, bad-boy Jesse. Josie loves Patrick because they have grown up together and share a love of books. But Patrick is destined to stay in the French Quarter, keeping root in a place where Josie desperately needs out. Jesse is a car mechanic with a seemingly dangerous side who just wants the best for Jo. Which one will she choose?
As I mentioned before, Sepety’s characters really come to life and as a reader, you are immersed in the 1950’s New Orleans. There is murder, mystery, prostitutes, and superstition wrapped up in these pages and I had trouble putting it down!
I would give this novel a 4.5/5 only because I probably won’t read it again.