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In Gewirtz’s debut thriller, a movie star’s entitled daughter finds herself in a series of increasingly precarious circumstances.

Seventeen-year-old Brooklyn Petitjean has enjoyed her life as the offspring of celebrity actress Jean Petitjean. An evening away from the usual Hollywood scene takes Brooklyn to the El Rodeo bar in East Los Angeles. There, she has a confrontation with a group of so-called “gangsta girls,” which ends with Brooklyn seriously injuring one of them and fleeing the scene. Brooklyn had a wig on, so cops don’t immediately identify her, but she lives in perpetual fear of being caught as the situation escalates. Meanwhile, her crush, sitcom star Jace Hayes, is unsure of his future career. A video goes viral that seems to reveal him to be a racist and sexual harasser, which annihilates his reputation and job prospects. Brooklyn decides to help by scoring Jace an audition, but this entails blackmailing a producer, which, in turn, connects to an “Unspeakable Thing” from Brooklyn’s past and her strained relationship with her mother. Other people seek revenge on Brooklyn for her El Rodeo crime, and a cult leader abducts her, which puts numerous other people in danger. Gewirtz loads his swiftly paced story with curious characters. A few are stereotypically sleazy Hollywood types, but many others shine, including Brooklyn’s makeup-artist friend, Lila Jordan, and Bodhi Sharma a self-professed empath with reputed psychic abilities. The subplots are often topical; for example, rampant ageism seemingly prevents Jean from getting work. Some readers may find it hard to sympathize with Brooklyn as she revels in her entitled life, but the difficulties between her and her mother are convincing and dramatically sound, and the frenzied final act believably alters the protagonist’s perceptions of herself and others.

An insightful and often entertaining character-driven tale.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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