An ex–beauty queen, along with her teenage daughter, leaves a hardscrabble life in Oregon for Los Angeles, where she hopes to become a psychic to the stars.
Debbie Allen, a former Miss America contender, and her 17-year-old daughter, Lindsey, scrape by with waitressing and the psychic-reading business they conduct in their garage. Lindsey can read tea leaves and tarot cards and is in on the con, but she would rather devote her energies to school and winning a scholarship to study astronomy in college. But Debbie, equal parts blindly optimistic and perpetually dissatisfied, has other plans: After a mysterious fire burns down their house, they drive to LA, where they can live the life Debbie has always dreamed of. Settled in at the Sepulveda Apartment Complex, with an up-close view of the 405 freeway, Lindsey is soon enrolled as a scholarship student at a Christian school, the same one Paco, her hunky neighbor, attends. At school, Lindsey is mentored by her scholarship benefactor, Joan Fields, a lonely widow whom Debbie marks as their ticket to the good life. Debbie and Lindsey ingratiate themselves with Joan, so when a storm makes their apartment soggy and destroys Joan’s Malibu estate, the three end up living together in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. This is only the beginning for Debbie, who plans to hold a séance for Joan’s dead husband while fleecing the widow of her considerable savings. Meanwhile, Lindsey is trying to fit in at school and plan for college while conducting an implausibly chaste romance with Paco. Though the novel has some light, sweet moments, the characters feel underdeveloped; while Lindsey and Debbie are essentially small-time grifters (though there's none of the excitement of that kind of novel here), there's little exploration of their inner lives.
An appealing plot isn’t enough to support thinly drawn characters.