STILETTO 911

THE MAKEOVER MANIFESTO OF A CAREER WOMAN

A spoiled rich girl’s wakeup call has an added twist in Schmidt’s first novel—the tale is designed to give women step-by-step instructions for establishing themselves in the world.

  At only 23-years-old, Morgan Demarest is kicked out of her boyfriend’s apartment with nowhere to go. Following the author’s introduction, Morgan quickly asserts herself as a shopaholic with a penchant for designer stilettos. It’s then that Demarest meets Divinity, her sassy fairy godmother who won’t tolerate Morgan’s whiny attitude. Divinity guides Morgan to a more purposeful life, and the story serves as an example for how women can give their lives a makeover. The book intertwines Morgan’s journey to find her life’s passion (an event planner, as it turns out) and helping women find their own life’s passion. Unlike most mundane self-help books, the story shows women how to reach their dreams without actually telling them. The “footnotes” at the end of each chapter further emphasize this point without preaching. Each footnote summarizes the lesson Morgan learned, including goal setting, finding a mentor, journaling, handling conflicts and making positive financial decisions. Although the story illustrates a person’s potential well, some aspects of the book are overdone. The characters don’t feel like average women; almost everyone starts a successful company, including Morgan, who at the end is on her way to being a very successful event planner. Morgan discovers her passion through her job at an art gallery, and, with advice from her no-nonsense fairy godmother, she figures out how to run her life without having money handed to her. Morgan’s journey is compelling, but the women’s desperate need for stilettos is exhausting. Despite these setbacks, the light-hearted story inconspicuously motivates women to do something with their lives.   A subtle blend of counseling, motivation and entertainment that will make any woman buy the hottest stilettos she can find and reach for her dreams.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615494784

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Glamour Press House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2012

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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