ASK ME ANYTHING by Francesca Delbanco


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Good advice, bad advice.

Columnist Rosalie Preston tries to say the right things to the confused teenagers who write her at Girl Talk, though she’s not sure she’s qualified to give anyone advice: she just sort of stumbled into the job after temping for the magazine and her own life isn’t exactly stable. Which is to say that, at 26, she actually doesn’t have a real boyfriend or, um, particular goals or anything. But what’s real and what’s fake, anyway? Who knows? Rosalie does feel kind of real on stage sometimes, though—and when she’s not pretending to work, she does acting with the First Born theater company, along with rich girls, gay guys, and the merely eccentric who are all pretty different from the solid, middle-class types she grew up among. There’s Bella Starker, daughter of the billionaire who underwrites most of First Born’s expenses (Bella takes cabs and stuff). And Cam and Evan—they’re, like, interesting. And there’s Grace and, um, some others. Wow. . . is Berglan Starker, Bella’s much-married, excessively well-groomed father, coming on to her? Well, chalk it up to experience—albeit not one she can share with her dopey readers or concerned parents—but Rosalie is happy enough to bend over and give all for Berglan. He makes strange old-person pronouncements in an attempt to be polite, which is pretty much lost on Rosalie. Plus, ee-yeww—he has gray hair on his chest. How weird is that? But whatever, she gets to look at a really fabulous view of New York from his fabulous apartment while he’s banging away. Then a new love interest arrives on the scene: Declan Pearse, rugged Irish playwright. Should she bag Berglan and decide on Declan? What will her friends think (or do they think?)? Hey, doesn’t everything kind of turn out the same no matter what you do?

Trite, plotless, self-absorbed debut from a former writer of Seventeen’s advice column.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-393-05170-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003