Aspiring actress Franny Banks is on a time crunch. With six months until her self-imposed deadline to land a real acting gig in New York City, Fran is struggling to make ends meet in a cutthroat world where everyone is an actor — and also a waiter. (Like Fran.)
Bunking with her best friend Jane and Dan, a writer aspiring to greatness himself, Franny is steadfastly avoiding her father’s guilt-trip phone calls and attending acting classes in the hope of becoming The Next Big Thing. With a few commercials under her belt, she hopes the royalty checks will sustain her until her big break arrives — if it ever arrives. Someday. Maybe.
If you’re anything like me, you noticed something about this review right away: the author, Lauren Graham? She was Lorelai. From “Gilmore Girls.” One of the most fantastic, formative television shows of my adolescence. Famous for her role on the popular TV show and now starring in “Parenthood,” Graham is a busy lady — and a very talented one.
Set in the mid-’90s, Someday, Someday, Maybe is everything that was great about “Gilmore Girls”: snappy writing; believable friendships; realistic, scathing dialogue. In a pre-texting, pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter world, Franny Banks is left to her own devices — and that device often includes an answering machine. Many chapters begin with a recap of Fran’s messages, recorded on honest-to-goodness machine tape, and they’re pivotal to the plot. She’s always waiting for someone to call her . . . about a job, about a date, about an agent. I loved the throwback references to older technology, remembering how exhilarating it was to come home and find that blinking red light on the machine.
Aside from the fun of reliving my childhood through old-school machinery, Graham’s characters wrapped me up in their world. Though I’ve never entertained the idea of moving to New York, I know what it means to have lofty dreams and felt the bittersweet tinge of every move Franny makes. With her wild hair, lack of style and sweet but bumbling personality, she’s the Everywoman. Half broken from the early death of her mother and left adrift, she’s the sort of character you want to help — but not pity. Franny isn’t some lazy, spoiled bum living off Daddy’s dime. Whatever meager royalties she earns from her commercials help supplement her paltry earnings from waiting tables, and I really felt the struggle — the serious, everyday, painful struggle — to come to terms with the idea that your dreams might just be out of reach.
But this book is no downer. On the contrary, I’d describe it as . . . humor? contemporary fiction? humorous nostalgic contemporary fiction? With Graham at the helm, Someday, Someday, Maybe felt like slipping back into Stars Hollow. Everyone is so funny and quick and quirky, and I got to thinking about how Lorelai Gilmore was kind of like a sophisticated, grown-up Zooey Deschanel before the latter was cool. (She was probably still in high school. I haven’t done the math.) Franny is the same way.
Taking a glance at Graham’s personal history, the author herself studied acting — even earning her M.F.A. in acting performance — before moving to New York City, where she starred in commercials before moving to Los Angeles in 1995. Hmm . . . timeline matches up. I’m not saying Graham is Franny, but there definitely was a sense of biographical material in some of the fun, kooky situations the author dishes up.
Bottom line? If you’re looking for a smart, fun story, Someday, Someday, Maybe is really enjoyable. In examining the typical dramatic arc, this book satisfies every component. I finished the story feeling happy and satisfied, content with how Franny ended up, and I was surprised by how much I truly cared for the characters. Thumbs-up.
Someday, Someday, Maybe will hit shelves in hardcover on April 30.
4 out of 5!