Ab­so­lutely True Lies by Rachel Stuh­ler

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BOOK REVIEW - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Af­ter guiltily judg­ing the book by its cover and hes­i­tat­ing to read it, I fi­nally learnt that Ab­so­lutely

True Lies wasn’t a ro­mance novel at all. I read al­most half of the book close-minded, an­noyed at how su­per­fi­cial it seemed, un­til a re­veal­ing con­ver­sa­tion be­tween two of the main char­ac­ters in chap­ter 10, and I be­came more re­cep­tive when I re­alised I was be­ing as stub­born as the nar­ra­tor.

The novel fol­lows a dra­matic sto­ry­line that be­gins when nar­ra­tor Holly Garcin loses her job as a jour­nal­ist for an un­pop­u­lar and unim­por­tant magazine. One day, af­ter sulk­ing for over a week with­out even tak­ing a shower, her world changes. Jame­son Lloyd, agent for Nick­elodeon child star Daisy Mae Dix­son, gives Holly a call to ar­range a meet­ing. To Holly’s sur­prise, the meet­ing is to of­fer her a job as ghost-writer of the au­to­g­ra­phy of Daisy Mae, with an alarm­ingly high pay cheque, travel and perks all in­cluded.

Holly has been in Hol­ly­wood for four years and is only now about to learn that the place is not ex­actly what it seems. Ini­tially she is pri­vately in­sult­ing to the Dix­son fam­ily, ‘Jamie’ Lloyd and Daisy’s en­tourage, think­ing they are noth­ing but su­per­fi­cial and only pre­sent­ing a façade to the pub­lic. True, Daisy is not the ac­tual sweet­heart that the world thinks she is. She drinks vodka out of a sippy cup! Jamie lit­er­ally rules her life; she can’t sleep alone; she is com­pletely dis­re­spect­ful to her mother, has in­sane re­la­tion­ships, and a drug ad­dic­tion that is en­cour­aged by Jamie.

Holly also learns about some of the fam­ily’s dirty lit­tle se­crets in­clud­ing a past, in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ship be­tween Daisy’s mother and Jamie. It’s only af­ter Holly in­di­rectly be­comes pub­lic in­ter­est, and has a few rev­e­la­tions, that she re­alises th­ese peo­ple have real prob­lems and that money and life de­tached from the real world pre­vents them from prop­erly deal­ing with any­thing.

Dur­ing a visit to Italy the many plots of the book and of Holly’s life thicken. Daisy is ar­rested for us­ing co­caine which means Holly will lose her job and most likely re­turn to her pa­thetic life.

“I was twenty-five years old and I didn’t own an iron or a fork. I was liv­ing in some state of ar­rested de­vel­op­ment, and only when ev­ery­thing started to shift un­der my feet did I fi­nally see my life for what it was. It was de­press­ing as hell” be­moans Holly.

Daisy and Holly es­cape Italy and Daisy checks into re­hab but with no help from Jamie who, of course, does not own up to his cul­pa­bil­ity of hav­ing made Daisy use an ex­ces­sive amount of drugs since she was fif­teen. Her down­fall be­comes world news and her fan re­sponse is on a to­tally dif­fer­ent beat.

The end­ing of the novel is sur­pris­ing but very “Hol­ly­wood”. There’s a per­fectly happy end­ing for every­one ex­cept the an­tag­o­nists but it is only close to the end when the reader learns who the real “bad guys” are.

Al­though the aim of Hol­ly­wood is to cre­ate a lit­tle magic on the screen by pour­ing day­dreams into or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ences, this book makes the reader re­alise that th­ese peo­ple don’t ac­tu­ally share sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. So un­like many other nov­els, the char­ac­ters and ex­pe­ri­ences of this one were not re­lat­able, cre­at­ing not just new per­spec­tives but self-re­al­i­sa­tion.

Rachel Stuh­ler has worked on movie sets as a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant, script su­per­vi­sor and screen writer. She claims that some of the ex­pe­ri­ences put into this novel are sim­i­lar to hers; it pro­vides some in­sight into what life in Hol­ly­wood re­ally is like.

If this book could be de­scribed in one word it would be ‘en­ter­tain­ing’. It’s an easy read and ap­pro­pri­ate for any teenager or young adult in­ter­ested in TV shows, drama and gos­sip. The book is just as ex­cit­ing and ad­dic­tive as watch­ing a saucy re­al­ity TV series. This edi­tion is com­plete with dis­cus­sion ques­tions and an in­ter­view with the au­thor so it would be per­fect for a teenage book club.

Ab­so­lutely True Lies is avail­able at The bookYard, Star Pub­lish­ing Com­pound, Mas­sade, Gros Islet.

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