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by Lauren Graham

Pub Date: April 30th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-345-53274-9
Publisher: Ballantine

In TV-star Graham’s debut, an aspiring actress runs up against a self-imposed deadline: Make it in NYC within three years, or find another profession.

It’s 1995, and Franny is about to give up on her goal. She’s come so close: acting classes with an illustrious thespian coach, a marred but memorable performance in his showcase and offers from two agents. Of these, the smoother-talking Joe Melville seems better connected than the crusty anachronism, Barney Sparks—almost immediately, Joe books Franny a bit part in a newly revived sitcom which may gain her increased attention, if it ever airs. On the romantic front, Franny has, she thinks, a long-distance relationship with Chicago law student Clark, a promising flirtation with handsome rising star James and a comfortable confidant in her roommate, Dan, a struggling screenwriter. Although her Filofax (scrawled and doodled sections of which precede most chapters) is temporarily chockablock with auditions for commercials and soap operas, there are long arid stretches spent in front of the TV instead of on it, when she’s not temping as a catering server or striving to hold on to a cocktail-waitressing job. Finally, Joe comes through with a breakthrough role; except that it is in a zombie flick and involves nudity. Franny is perilously close to her deadline without a palpable validation of her career choice. Her fallback people, including Clark, her long-suffering father, and Dan, seem to be moving on without her. It’s make it or break it time, but as is sometimes the case in semiautobiographical novels, the story seems to meander aimlessly, as it might in real life. However, thanks to Graham’s affection for her characters as well as her authoritative exposition of the logistics of an actor’s working (or in this case, nonworking) life, readers will excuse the detours.

An entertainment-industry coming-of-age story that manages to avoid many of the clichés of the genre by repurposing them to humorous ends.