Happy Book Day! Here’s a recap of the three books I read in June:
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, 2009, 435 pages
Short Synopsis: Lara is visited by the spirit of her great-aunt Sadie who tasks her with finding her special necklace so she can rest peacefully. Laura is busy balancing work and her love life, assisted by Sadie’s unsolicited advice and meddling. In her search for the necklace, Laura uncovers truths about her family.
I chose to read this book because I enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. Also, Twenties Girl seemed like fitting title to read in 2020. The story was a whimsical retreat from reality and it was funny to imagine Lara talking to someone who no one else could see. I also loved the idea of the sparkly, vintage 1920’s dresses Lara and Sadie wore. Lara’s Uncle Bill Lington, of Lington’s Coffee (a fictional coffee conglomerate on the scale of Starbucks) and Natalie, her business partner in a start-up headhunting firm were conflict creators. They both were lacking in honesty and were more than willing to use others to gain success for themselves. As expected, Lara prevailed and the story ended happily.
Memorable Quote: “Darling, when things go wrong in life, you lift your chin, put on a ravishing smile, mix yourself a little cocktail….”
Pretty Things by Janelle Brown, 2020, 474 pages
Short Synopsis: Lily is a grifter and con-artist, but hopes that her daughter Nina will go to college and have a better Future. When Lily gets sick and needs expensive treatment, Nina teams up with Lachlan, her mother’s former partner in cons to target Vanessa Liebling – heiress and Instagram influencer.
The glittery cover drew me to this book and I was reminded of the real-life Anna Delvey story . Pretty Things is centered around wealth, privilege and how people carefully curate the image they present to the world. Nina was a good student and made her mother proud by earning a college degree in art history. Unfortunately a college education did not lead to the bright Future they imagined: ” I walked away with a six-figure student-loan debt and a piece of paper that qualified me to do absolutely nothing of value whatsoever “. To earn money, Nina falls into her mom’s lifestyle of finding wealthy targets to con and steals cash, jewelry, and antiques.
Vanessa Liebling is a reminder that wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness and that people are not always as happy or successful as they appear on social media. While Vanessa appeared to have everything, she was sad, lonely, and constantly seeking external validation from her followers. Her Instagram feed allowed a look into her life, which helped Nina create a false sense of closeness and friendship while running the con.
The further I read, I realized Pretty Things reminded me of the TV show Revenge. I also liked that the chapters alternated between Nina’s and Vanessa’s perspectives so we could get to know each character’s thoughts and backstory. This story is filled with secrets, lies, shifting loyalties and a surprising ending.
Memorable Quote: “We have to keep up appearances, cupcake …. there are wolves out there, waiting to drag us down at the first sign of weakness. You can never, ever let people see the moments when you’re not feeling strong.”
Well, that Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey, 2018, 256 pages
Short Synopsis: Franchesca Ramsey’s life changed within a matter of hours when a YouTube video she created went viral. Although the video was about her personal experiences with micro-aggressions, she was now faced with the expectation to be an expert on anti-racism and race relations.
I hadn’t heard of Franchesca Ramsey before reading this book and have never seen MTV’s Decoded. She grew up in the suburbs, attended Catholic school and was used to being one of few if not the only black person in the room. It was interesting to learn how she was one of the early users of YouTube. Her day job was in graphic design and she posted comedic videos in her free time. In 2008, one of her videos went viral. Talk shows and media outlets started contacting her for comments and appearances. As she became more of a public figure, the expectation for her to speak as an expert and educate the public grew and haters and trolls appeared from under their bridges.
Reading Franchesa Ramsey’s story made me glad that I limit my participation in online forums. It was so disheartening to read the hateful comments and personal attacks she received online. It was helpful to read her description of the differences between “call-outs” vs. “call-ins”. A “call-out” is a public response to a problematic comment made to a wide audience. It draws attention to the issue and increases others’ awareness. If the problematic comment comes from someone you know personally, a “call-in” is a gentler approach. A one-on-one private conversation is an opportunity to tell that person how the comment makes you and others feel. The book cited an experiment that showed people are more likely to accept direction and correction from someone who looks like them. If people in your circle are making offensive remarks, you could be the positive influence they need. I also appreciated the reminder that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. We are all free to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions but that does not mean we are free from disagreement, backlash or disciplinary actions. This book made me appreciate the effort towards increasing awareness and education about social justice issues.
Memorable Quote: “You can totally start your company emails to your boss with “Dear ugly b**ch”—you’ll just get fired for it. By committing to march down the path of “political incorrectness”, you’re saying you’re willing to sacrifice relationships with anyone who finds your language unacceptable.”
Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? For more Style and Savings Reads click here. Visit the Show Us Your Books link-up for reviews from more book bloggers here. Also, see more book recommendations at the Style and Savings Bookshop.