By Amy Poeppel
Read by: Carly Robins
Length: 12 hrs and 50 mins
Release date: 05-01-18
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
In a smart and funny new novel by the author of the critically acclaimed, “big-hearted, charming” (The Washington Post) Small Admissions, a family’s move to New York City brings surprises and humor as their lives merge with the captivating world of Broadway.
Allison Brinkley—wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist—discovers that a carefully weighed decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought.
Allison learns that New York is unruly and bewildering, defying the notions she developed from romantic movies and a memorable childhood visit. After a humiliating call from the principal’s office and the loss of the job she was counting on, Allison begins to accept that New York may not suit her after all.
When Allison has a fender-bender, witnessed by a flock of mothers at her son’s new school, she is led to the penthouse apartment of a luxurious Central Park West building and encounters a spoiled, hungover, unsupervised teenager who looks familiar. It doesn’t take long to recognize him as Carter Reid—a famous pop star who has been cast in a new Broadway musical. Through this brush with stardom, Allison embraces a unique and unexpected opportunity that helps her find her way in the heart of Manhattan.
In a book that delivers laughs, warmth, and delightful wish fulfillment, Poeppel dives into celebrity culture and modern motherhood with her trademark “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Maybe in Another Life) style. http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Limelight/Amy-Poeppel/9781508257080
I was enchanted by this book. While it mostly follows the paths I thought it would it is an interesting and original plot that balances family life, celebrity and how we identify ourselves. This is probably the first story I’ve read in a long time where the romantic couple has a healthy, loving relationship (minus a little sexy secretary worry). The children are reasonably nice. It is interesting that one of the two biggest issues in the book is second-guessing a decision on whether the family moved into the right kind of residence. Their life in Texas was comfortable with a lovely big house, a happy teaching career, children are progressing in life along expected lines. These parents give their children need, Allison’s mother even lives in the same area. It’s a perfect family scene. But in Allison’s college past, some of her friends have convinced her that Manhattan is THE place to live. And, maybe it is.
But, this is a family in transition and that can bring difficulty in adjustment. The kids are all having little issues, but it is Allison herself who finds herself adrift. She lusts after a large house in the suburbs that would offer her everything she had in Texas, she can’t find a suitable position, she is intimidated by the other moms at her son’s school. But what are the payoffs in having a small house where you don’t have your fabulous kitchen but in town, versus a large house where you can continue to be the same mom you were in Dallas and where your husband will need to commute three hours daily. It’s about change and doesn’t make it all perfect. The apartment is still small, and no amazing benefactor gives them an incredible townhouse.
Her “cause” falls into her lap in the form of a rude Justin-Bieber-Type pop star, Carter Reid, who is in NYC to debut in a musical. He is an ass, he has been unsupervised most of his life, he is going to drink, drug and sex himself into an early grave. But Allison sees something in him, and she can see his need. She goes into mom mode. It’s the most mothering he’s had his entire life.
Her caring is rebuffed, she is still concerned and like a mom with her child, will not give up, and like a good teacher she thinks up strategies to help him.
SHe is an adult, but she doesn’t have all the answers, she makes mistakes too. And that is possibly what is the most charming.
This storyline could go either way: sometimes those teen pop stars who have had too much, too soon, who have worked hard and often been taken advantage of, who have been handled and catered to, they often go off the rails and sometimes don’t become good adults. It is sad but true. But the beauty is that Allison doesn’t give up. She analyzes and strategizes and is effective. The process of developing the musical from read through to the end of the contract is interesting and well drawn too.
The voice of the narrator was fine, emotionally expressive, maybe a little bit too young for the character. I don’t believe I have heard a narration by Ms. Robbins before.
This book was charming, a great read or listen, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. It would make a fun movie. I really didn’t want it to end. It’s really a feel good book!