An orphaned teenager moves into her grandmother’s model-filled town house.
In this debut YA novel, newly orphaned Jane Archer moves to New York to live with her grandmother Gigi Towers, founder of a modeling agency. Several of Gigi’s young models live in her house, and the narration rotates among Jane, who has trouble adjusting to upper-class life and Gigi’s high standards; Maya, whose prominent family’s disdain for her modeling career only exacerbates her eating disorders and cutting; and Campbell Tucker, a Southerner who sees her status go from bottom of the heap to it girl over a few months. The models face professional challenges, drug problems, harassment from men in the industry, and tough love from Gigi while Jane slowly settles in and finds her place with the “weirdos” at school and discovers a passion for filmmaking. Tensions increase as Campbell lands her first movie role, and Jane eventually solves the mystery of who in the house has been threatening the model’s career. The book takes a dark turn in the final pages, but by the end, all three protagonists have grown emotionally. Fuson has created an engaging world in Gigi’s town house, with well-developed main characters and a strong supporting cast. Jane’s relationship with Gigi, which begins with open hostility and evolves into mutual respect, is plausible and compelling. The author is clearly knowledgeable about the modeling industry, with its “go-sees” and bookers—and the particular problems that Maya faces as one of the few black models. Although the plot is slow to develop in the opening chapters—in which the audience is reminded several times that Jane is distinctly not the model type—the pacing soon establishes itself, and readers will be turning pages quickly by the midpoint. The prose is solid, and if the theme of models who are more than just their looks is not entirely original, it is still well presented in an enjoyable narrative that will easily hold readers’ attention.
A well-written story of an outsider in a house of beauties and problems that are more than skin-deep.