Book review: ‘Someday, Someday, Maybe’ by Lauren Graham

Someday, Someday, MaybeAspiring 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!

ISBN: 0345532740 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Twitter
Digital review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest review

Book review: ‘Seeing Stars’ by Diane Hammond

Many people come to Hollywood seeking fame and wealth — and it’s not too different for mother-daughter team Ruth and Bethany Rabinowitz. Leaving their comfortable lives in Seattle behind — along with Bethany’s sensible dentist father, who waits for their return — the women move to Los Angeles and immediately begin the scary, demanding process of making 13-year-old Bethany a star.

To even have the possibility of making it in Tinseltown, we learn, every wannabe celebrity must enlist the services of a talented team — and that means hooking up with Mimi Roberts, a cutthroat talent manager who “makes pronouncements” to all of her clients: “Don’t mumble. Own the room. Never be late for an audition.” With Mimi on their side and a tidy new name plastered over her own, Bethany Rabinowitz becomes Bethany Ann Roosevelt and starts to act her little heart out.

As more and more auditions line up, some more disappointing than those before, the Rabinowitzes must weigh the cost of their dreams against the pain, sweat and tears needed to keep moving forward — maybe before it becomes too late to turn back.

More than anything, Diane Hammond’s Seeing Stars seems to be a cautionary tale for aspiring Hollywood types — and in that vein, it functions very well as a work of contemporary fiction. With plenty of nods to certain Disney stars and topical references to films like “High School Musical,” which seems to be the dream gig of every working teen in L.A., Hammond’s book draws the reader into a sordid, often sad world of backstage lots, incredibly long hours, droll parents and sacrifice rarely displayed to those of us who simply enjoy the end results: glamorous movies and well-packaged TV shows.

Though Bethany and Ruth are the “stars” of the book, plenty of peripheral characters fill in the landscape — most notably Allison Addison, a spoiled but talented teen who lives full-time with Mimi Roberts, the girls’ manager, and is one of the kids collectively known as “the Orphans.” Dumped by their parents and from all reaches of the U.S., the Orphans board with Mimi while she sends them out on countless auditions and passes them off to unsuspecting stage mothers like Ruth. It’s impossible not to feel for these kids, shuttled around in an endless waiting game and lacking any real parental guidance, but it was really frustrating, too.

In fact, frustrating is the way I would describe much of the book — and not because the writing wasn’t solid. It definitely was. Hammond does a great job of introducing us to a very motley crew of folks who don’t seem to have much in common other than their shared dreams of success, and sometimes that’s enough to bind them . . . but sometimes it’s not. And watching everyone desperately chasing something that often seems so elusive actually made my stomach hurt. I wondered, too, about everyone’s motivations — especially Ruth’s. Why put themselves through this? Who were they benefiting and who were they hurting? Can the kids even get a decent education while working like this? And since many of these motivations seemed anything but altruistic, that bothered me, too.

Readers interested in the fame game will find plenty of “behind the scenes” information in Hammond’s novel, dropping us everywhere from auditions to sets to popular Hollywood landscapes — and everywhere in between. The jargon was flying from the get-go and, as someone interested in the movie biz, I found it pretty interesting. Seeing Stars also examines close family relationships and motherhood, too, and has some poignant scenes, though the sheer length of the novel dragged it down for me. Pick it up if you’re interested in the making (and breaking?) of a star, but skip it if character-driven drama isn’t for you.

3.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0061863157 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website

tlc_logo copy

Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours

Playing NaNo catch up

In an effort to stay calm before my audition tonight, I’ve returned to my NaNoWriMo novel. I’ve been slacking a little lately, I know, but that’s mostly because I know I can crank the words out the best under serious pressure. It’s pathetic that one of the whole points of NaNoWriMo is to quickly get a novel out in 30 days — and this is a serious challenge. If the 30 day threat isn’t enough, I have to make it harder for myself: instead of spacing it out and writing a little every day, I have a tendency to write 2,000 or 3,000 words every other day, then sit down and hammer about 10,000 in a single afternoon.

I’m doing all right, though. And I’ve finally hit my stride with my new book! Sadly, it’s another “break-up” novel — my characters are always getting over the really nasty end of a relationship. But since it’s easiest to right from personal experience, I just roll with it! And now that I’m happy and in love again, I can explore that aspect of the aftermath, too. Barf, I know! But it’s fun to see the sunshine after the rain . . . and it’s even more fun to write about it. Break-ups are always the catalyst for something more — something greater.

Here are some fun widgets demonstrating my noveling prowess.
Disregard the sad red squares from the days I failed to buckle down!:

Yes, I’m well on my way!

Wish me luck tonight . . . my heart is in my throat, I’m so nervous! I just don’t want to humiliate myself with my rusty acting expertise . . . we’ll see. Oh, the FEAR!

Back out into the bold (acting) unknown

Cast of "Sweet Charity" at TSHS, 2003. Can you find me?

Cast of "Sweet Charity" at TSHS, 2003. Can you find me? 🙂

Tomorrow night, I’m taking a gigantic leap out into the bold unknown.

I’m auditioning for a play.

It’s been three years. Three years since I tried out for a show! I was a huge theatre buff in high school — I racked up about a dozen roles in my four years in my school’s department. It’s where I met some of my best friends then, and where I splayed out for hours running lines and blocking and practicing. In all of my adolescent exuberance, I memorized countless lines and attempted to sing in productions like “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Sweet Charity.” And even if I was pretty horrible, I was nothing if not dedicated!

Since then, time has obviously become a high-priced commodity. I was way too busy in college to even think about auditioning for community theatre. I did audition for one show in 2005 — one crazy hot summer evening — but I was doing it for the wrong reasons: I was desperate to have something to chew up all of my time after a nasty break-up, so I went in for a part with my head and heart all broken up.

This time, I’m definitely not broken — but I do have ulterior motives. As Palmer gets ready to leave for the Air Force and I’m here with my family, friends and full-time job to keep me company, I’m still going to have plenty of time over the next few months that I would love to fill up with something other than longing and anxiety! I’m writing, yes, but I write all the time. I need something more.

And our community theatre in Southern Maryland is performing A Man For All Seasons in March.

I have no idea how many female roles there are. I have no clue if I’m going to absolutely suck after all this time. I don’t know if this is something I’ll keep up with — or realize was just a part of my high school experience, walking away and leaving it at that.

But I know I have to try.

And here’s to trying!

Here’s my monologue . . . I have it mostly memorized. That’s what tonight will be for!