Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler
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.