In Zancan’s debut, three Florida girls experience a life-changing night when they discover a movie star at their favorite local haunt.
The Shamrock doesn’t see much excitement. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee how a night there will unfold. Nestled in a nowhere town outside of Orlando, it’s the go-to place for Maggie, Nina, and Lindsey to test-drive their newfound adulthood. As narrator Maggie paints this picture, she notes that, on the surface, “we look happy.” But when A-list movie star Sam Decker arrives in search of a night of drinking away from the spotlight, this illusion of stability begins to unravel. Sam Decker looks happy, too—or should be, based on how he’s portrayed in the magazines the girls adore—but we know outright that this fated night is the last of his life. This revelation should allow for a healthy building of suspense, but the book never achieves the full crescendo the setup suggests. Instead, the story turns inward, focusing on how this encounter with Decker brings out each girl’s insecurities and the ways in which they diverge and connect. Decker takes the sparkle out of movie-star life, revealing himself as flawed and rather lost; if someone like him can feel so small, where does that leave the rest of them? Zancan describes Florida’s oppressive heat so well that it seems to affect the entire narrative; the girls' shared history is revealed in a slow, almost dreamlike fashion. As a narrator, Maggie is distant, weighed down by the responsibility of friendship and years of memories: “We cried about these things alone and together and wrote about them in the journals we had grown too old to call diaries.” There’s a stickiness to the prose that keeps it from achieving its intended impact.
A character study that will draw you in—just don’t expect to have any energy left at the end.