A pop-culture send-up with a troubled material girl anti-heroine. Although wickedly funny at times, this odd debut takes a...

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WHITE GIRL PROBLEMS

Poor little rich girl Babe Walker hits rock bottom during a Barneys shopping spree in this faux memoir based on a popular Twitter feed.

In a town (Los Angeles, naturally) filled with the chronically self-absorbed, Babe stands out. The precocious only child of a wildly successful British entertainment lawyer and a long-absent mystery woman, Babe is raised for the most part by her Jamaican nanny, Mabinty. Mabinty smokes a lot of weed and speaks with an exaggerated patois—or at least she does in Babe’s point of view, which is none too reliable. Diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder at the tender age of 7, Babe has serious boundary issues. As a sophomore, she plots to lose her virginity to her gay best friend Roman (while they are dressed as Danny and Sandy from Grease). In her teens she lobbies a series of befuddled plastic surgeons for a labiaplasty, insisting that her vagina needs to be “cute and chic-er and more…me.” She steals her file from her longtime therapist, Susan, and goes to five different colleges before deciding academia might not be her thing. And when she does meet a nice guy who actually likes her, she transforms into her alter ego Babette, a slutty stalker with an unfortunate taste for tacky chain restaurants. Showing some aptitude for fashion, Babe is understandably devastated when her line of high-end dashikis for African children fails, and soon after that another romantic disappointment triggers the mother of all retail binges. After spending a cool $246,893.50 at Barneys, she cops to needing some help and sends herself to Cirque Lodge, a Utah rehab facility. Once there, she resists actually changing but manages to bond with an alcoholic former model who might actually hold a key piece to the puzzle that is Babe. 

A pop-culture send-up with a troubled material girl anti-heroine. Although wickedly funny at times, this odd debut takes a shallow, cavalier attitude toward mental illness, anorexia and addiction.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2454-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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