Review: The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya (Spoilers)

Can you really spoil a short story collection, though?

Most of my favorite short story collections are humorous or surreal, and often both. I like my fiction to be specific, absurd, and personal. Silliness is a positive thing.

I enjoyed The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya for how relatable the narrators were in their thoughts and anxieties about their lives. Below are my review and  interpretations of the stories in this collection in the order of how much I liked each story.

How did you interpret the stories? Leave your comments below.

The Lonesome Bodybuilder

Living with my perfectionist husband had made me think that I was a person with no redeeming qualities. It hadn’t been like that before we were married, but gradually, as I constantly tried to compensate for his lack of confidence by listing all my own faults, I’d acquired the habit of dismissing myself.

A woman with an insecure husband pursues an interest all her own in the form of bodybuilding. Her body gets bigger and the change is more noticeable to everyone around her except her husband.

There’s one point where she thinks that her muscles are just for show, and later realizes that it was simply another belief that she’d bought into at some point and then never challenged.

When her husband finally comes to her training gym, she shows him her true self and all her faces. He finally sees the real her. People around her also start taking her feelings into consideration.

I related to her relationship with her husband, her desire to show her true self, and the unfounded beliefs she sometimes internalized about herself. This was my favorite story in the collection.

An Exotic Marriage

Another favorite story in the collection, the excerpt published on LitHub only being the first half of this novella. A woman realizes she is starting to look like her husband. She then alternates between fighting the change and giving into it. At times, I think she is disgusted by her husband when he’ll do some to win her over. Even when it got long, I wanted to know how it would end.

I interpreted the final scene as her being free of her husband, but knowing that regardless of who she had been, anyone would have turned into a replica of her husband without a rock in between them.

What’s your metaphorical rock which absorbs your partner’s traits so that you can remain an independent person?


More silliness. An advice columnist gives more and more ridiculous advice. Why, I can imagine a world where my gaping loneliness can be solved by taking a cycle saddle as my next partner, looking into the rather human-like face of the bicycle saddle for companionship and having it “gently and lovingly support [my] ass.”

The Women

“[A] man is forced to kill his own fantasies after they come to life.” – The Atlantic

This story I found so fun and an extreme extension of women in a world where they transform into literal male fantasies, complete with stilettos bursting out of the soles of their shoes and lips producing their own lipstick.  A woman challenges her boyfriend, the narrator, to a duel. I’ve read that it’s a comment on the fantasy of having an assertive girlfriend, though I feel like the western male fantasy would be for someone passive. But I suppose that wouldn’t have led to the conflict of this short story. Either way, a clever take.

Fitting Room

This was originally published in Grant as Why I Can No Longer Look at a Picnic Blanket Without Laughing, and the original title is the punchline of the piece. It’s about a woman working at a clothing shop who has a customer where no clothes she tries on are satisfactory. However, the customer won’t come out of the fitting room or let the narrator see her. Thus, the narrator has no way to find clothes that might work for the customer.

The store helper thinks to transport the customer in the mobile fitting room to another store over the hill, but she accidentally lets go and the fitting room rolls down a hill. At last, the narrator catches a look at the customer who she describes as having a “runny” body.

Picture a picnic blanket laid on a meadow-—I bet that would look pretty good on her, like a floral print dress.

I think this is just a funny and silly story about a customer who doesn’t have a body that clothes can fit on, who is still trying to find clothes. It’s as if Yukiko Motoya looked at a picnic blanket one day and said, what if that where the most appropriate outfit for a blob creature with arms, started laughing and wrote a story about how a shopkeeper might come to that conclusion.

I Call You By Name

You get all our hopes up. We think, This time, this time, I’ll find someone for sure. But because you’re never there, we have to learn to be pragmatic, explain things away rationally.

A woman is thoroughly distracted by a bulge in the curtains which she imagines could be an ex-lover or some comforting presence which she may have encountered as a child. She feels deeply abandoned when the bulge leaves.

I read it as a story of someone who keeps imagining that the thing which abandoned her will still seek her out some day. She misses the days when she could be completely irrational, always trusting that the bulge was a person who would never leave her. Instead, she’s now become a rational, boring person who knows that the bulge is likely not there, and explains it away with as a trick of the light.

However, she’s not interested in being rational and boring. She still holds hope that the mysterious bulge entity will still seek her out. When she sees the bulge in the conference room, she goes back to her irrational self. The one which believes!

I like to think it’s a metaphor for the insanity which is love, and believing that there is some soul mate out there for you if you only have faith in the signs. However, even with that interpretation, I did feel bad for the narrator. It made me think, perhaps it is better to give up hope if it avoids constant disappointment?

The Straw Husband

A woman with a husband made of literal straw finds her honeymoon period over when her husband gets upset at her over small grievances. He lets out all his complaints. As he does so, musical instruments start falling out of his body until he’s nothing but a deflated pile of straw. The wife, Tomoko, puts the instruments back into his body, the husband apologizes to her, and they go out for a lovely day.

I interpreted this to be the catharsis when your partner picks a fight with you and lets out all the little resentments they’ve been holding in. By the end of it, you might look at your partner with disgust and you may not plan to change because those annoyances are just part of who you are. But you acknowledge you heard the complaints (which is what I interpreted as Tomoko putting all those instruments back into her husband’s body). Everything goes back to that way it was, with both partners back to status quo.

Slice of bizarre life.

The Dogs

I slowly became dingy and faded, by the dogs stayed as white as fresh snow.

Originally published under the same title in Granta. A woman isolates herself in a cabin. In place of people, she finds herself surrounded by soft dogs, who may also be terrorizing the population living in that town. The woman’s dream of being alone in the world comes true (suggestions that the dogs scare off the townspeople). However, she realizes that even though she got her dream, she wants to leave this town.

My interpretation: everyone needs human contact or they’ll become “dingy and faded.” People are what give color and texture to our world.

How to Burden the Girl

Originally published under the same title in Tender Journal, this is a story from the perspective of a peeping neighbor who want to save a woman who seems like she’s being pursued by an evil gang, only to find she may actually be awful herself. I understood that this was probably something about appearances being deceiving but I didn’t quite connect with this story.


Originally published in Catapult as The Reason I Carry Biscuits to Offer to Young Boys, it’s a story of a cynical woman watching business men attempting to keep their umbrellas open during a typhoon. What she thinks is foolishness is really their attempt to use their umbrellas to be carried by the wind in flight. An old man who offers her cookies (“better than any cookie I’d had in all my eleven years”) gets her to realize that these men are not so foolish, and it’s not until she  .

I feel like there’s some message about not being so cynical and giving strange men a chance, but I’m ok if I miss out such an incredible sight (metaphorically).

Paprika Jira

A young stall boy in a grocer’s market attempts to find out the motivations of a group of people who keep wreaking havoc on the market stalls. Seems like the group were re-enacting a classic chase scene straight out of a movie. The young boy never finds out why the group of people keep coming back to destroy his stall, but he accepts it as part of his life, even acting in respect that they never seem to stop running.

My interpretation of the concept: what if all those chase scenes in action movies took place in real life, and all at the same generic market place. What would someone who actually works in that market feel about the chase scene?

Cute concept, but didn’t connect for me.


Overall, The strangeness of the stories also kept me reading to find out what what happened next! I’ll be looking for more fiction in a similar vein.

Review: Caraval (spoilers)


I read Caraval by Stephanie Garber last night after seeing it mentioned on so many YA book blogs and instagrams of several authors that I follow. I had expected an adventure story, something fantastic and maybe a little dark. I was hoping for the excitement in the trials that Feyre had to overcome in A Court of Thorns and Roses mixed with the competitive atmosphere of The Hunger Games, but with much lower stakes (how dark can a book about a magical carnival game get?), and a much higher dose of magic. If anyone does write a book with those qualities, please let me know as Caraval didn’t hit the mark for me.

Here are five issues that I had with Caraval:

1. The protagonist, Scarlett: I can’t think of the name Scarlett without thinking of the grandest anti-heroine of all time, Scarlett O’Hara—sharp-tongued, selfish, and full of hustle and gumption. If Scarlett O’Hara had played Caraval she would have assumed her missing sister was doing just fine and tomorrow’s another day to hunt for the next clue!

giphy (2)

Instead here’s Scarlett whose entire life revolves around protecting her sister, Tella who is quite headstrong and rambunctious while Scarlett is a mop. I cheered when Tella kidnapped Scarlett to get her off the island, especially since she predicted and outsmarted Scarlett who would have sabotaged their only sure chance of leaving. Plus, since when is getting married a more assured way to escape the clutches of her abusive father when its the father who arranged the marriage! Plus she got so repetitive: need to save Tella, can’t think about boys I have to think about Tella, I have so much guilt when I think about anything other than Tella even though I’m here for a game. 


2. There were no stakes to the game. This seems like a fair game, I thought sarcastically when it was revealed that to solve one of the clues, you needed inside information about Tella (the clue involving postcards). Plus the set up of the book made it seem extremely linear—I’m not sure how forgiving the game would be if you tried to go out of order to solve the clue in a different way than how Scarlett solved it. And of course Scarlett would win—this game was literally designed for her.

I’m not even sure people were really trying to win. Aside from Scarlett, who else at Caraval was actually a real competitor? Everyone was either on vacation with the scavenger hunt an incidental side quest or a cast member. I felt like the only character who had any real investment was Scarlett, even though a wish is a pretty significant prize! I just wish it was a little more of a surprise of who might win the game.

Plus, no one could actually die, although I will say that losing time in the game because you’re dead was pretty clever. The game takes place over the course of five days, and Scarlett gives up two days of her life in order to buy a dress. Turns out, it’s not two days at the end of her life, as Scarlett expects, but right in the middle of the game. Scarlett “dies” and wakes up two days later.

This definitely upped the stakes of the game and sped up a plot that had started to drag. The author could have also used this to avoid coming up with more details to fill two days of events when really the game could be solved in less time. Either way, props to the author for thinking of that plot device.


3. What was this world? I could kind of imagine the castle and lake where she stayed… but the paths Scarlett and Julian traveled were kind of covered in a swirly fog most of the time. Plus it was a pretty contained location—it’s on an island after all. It might have been cool to get a map of the secret dark tunnels that exist under the island but I agree with this reviewer who didn’t also get the hype—the book didn’t really need a map for the caraval grounds.


4. The nickname that wasn’t. Julian kept referring to Scarlett as Crimson, even though no one has the name Crimson and it’s not even a shorter form of her name. I suppose the author wanted something more creative than Red but Julian could have teased Scarlett in a larger variety of ways. Him calling her Crimson got old, fast.

5. The count. Why was he so bad? What was his backstory? How did the father meet the count? What does the father get out of the marriage? How did he not see Scarlett the first time she saw the world in black and white when he was brought there specifically to track her down?


Despite its flaws, Caraval was a quick read because I actually wanted to see how the book would end. The sequel, Legendary, comes out in May. I may pick up a copy to see if it gets better when the protagonist switches.



More books with unlikable, unreliable, and darkly funny narrators please


It’s been too long since I read a book that hooked me the same way Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, You by Caroline Kepnes, and Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia did. Here are some qualities that these books have and which I’m finding quite rare:

“Unlikable” protagonists who are unapologetic in their actions and don’t really change throughout the book. I really don’t mind if there’s no conventional character development if I sympathize with the character from the start. I’ve read reviews for Enter Title Here where the reader complained about how Reshma Kapoor doesn’t change — and I feel like that reviewer completely missed the point of the book. It’s about vindication, external change not internal change. I’ve also read a lot of YA where the character berates herself for her selfishness and unworthiness. I simply find it boring. In fact, none of the characters in the above books think there is anything wrong with them, even while others call them crazy.

Unreliable narrator. Probably contributing to why these characters don’t see themselves as crazy is because they are unreliable narrators. They don’t tell the reader up front that they’ve done something bad before. I’d prefer this information revealed as a twist. It’s like how, in the pilot episode of Mad Men, we’re introduced to Don Draper bouncing ad ideas off a woman he’s seeing, and it’s not until the very end of the episode, when Don Draper goes home, that the viewer realizes he has a wife.

“Goal or mission driven” story. Likely some combination of the writing quality, pacing, and sense of purpose made these books gripping reads. These protagonists had a mission and were utterly devoted to that mission. In You, Joe had to stalk Beck and eliminate people in her life in order to become her boyfriend. In Enter Title Here, Reshma needed to write a book and maintain her valedictorian status before Stanford’s early admissions deadline. There were certain things that had to happen in order for those characters to achieve their goals and (for Gone Girl and Enter Title Here) some kind of external deadline — so I found events happened or were forced at a reasonably fast pace. This type of forward action kept me engaged.

Humor. You and Enter Title Here have more obviously satirical elements, but Gone Girl has been billed as “lunatic comedy.” There’s one scene in Enter Title Here where I laughed out loud as Reshma types murder over and over again while she’s overdosed on study aids. The absurd realness of it just did the trick for me.

Books that don’t go quite far enough… or had too heavy a premise…


I started reading Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll because I noticed it came up as I was searching books similar to You and books similar to Gone Girl. This is was on Google, so maybe their suggestion algorithm isn’t as strong as Amazon’s or Goodreads, but I barely got through it. I wasn’t engaged with the story or the protagonist, Ani, until about 2/3 of the way in because it was around chapter 11 that something resembling retribution happens.

I think the biggest difference is that Gone Girl, You, and Enter Title Here are all supposed to be dark humor. I didn’t find any of Luckiest Girl Alive to be funny. The premise was much too heavy. The title immediately reminded me of Lucky by Alice Sebold and the ending of the first chapter: “She wouldn’t mistake my name again, not once the documentary aired, not once the camera narrowed in on my aching, honest face, gently dissolving any last confusion about who I am and what I did” confirmed my suspicions of what her secret would be.

There were some complaints about Ani being a sociopath and more messed up than Amy Dunne. I don’t think I saw the same cold, rational calculation as Amy Dunne. Her revenge was fairly on par with the injustice she suffered whereas Amy’s was much more extreme. I was hoping she would enact vengeance in the same vein as The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (though, even that book had too much self-loathing for me). I’m glad I read all the way through because I did find the ending pretty satisfying, but Ani had to overcome a lot of issues with self-image and self-esteem first, and reasonably so.

I was hoping for a character who knows what she wants and will do anything to get it. That’s what the synopsis suggested anyway. The book jacket said Ani had a secret that could unravel everything she had worked to build. But this “secret past” was something that the reader would end up wanting her to acknowledge and ultimately “set her free.” I had thought it would be a fun tale of what Ani would do to keep the secret buried, but after figuring out what her secret was I realized she was destined to have a character arc that involved self-acceptance and transformation.

Books that are more of what I’m looking for…


It doesn’t have an unreliable narrator, but I did enjoy The Underwriting by Michelle Miller for her cast of unlikable characters who are underwriting the IPO of a hot new location-based dating app (i.e. fictionalized version of Tinder). There’s a whodunit mystery element with a murder occurring at the beginning as well, which ups the stakes. I also found the satire of corporate finance and Silicon Valley culture pretty relatable. For those who need character development, that does happen, so it’s a win on all sides. I got vindication and lots of moving parts — a mostly light-hearted thriller set in a totally different world than any of the books I mentioned before but totally what I wanted.

Do you see the pattern that I’m going for here? Let me know if you’ve got any recommendations that fit what I’m looking for. If you have the same tastes as me, link me your bookshelf so that I might find something that gets me hooked.

Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky

Or, why it’s worth reading a mediocre book once in a while.

Just Fall didn’t have spectacular writing or incredibly relatable characters, but it inspired me all the same, because it showed that a successful novel doesn’t have to be particularly well-written or have the most original plot, as long as it is decently entertaining. As a budding writer with low esteem, this was perfect! It’s the kind of book that makes me think, hey, I could do that too and pushes me to to start writing again.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nina Sadowsky said that she wrote Just Fall just for herself, and it shows. It was written in short, choppy chapters, just the way that I could imagine myself writing if I were writing just to explore the characters and where the plot could go without having anything beyond a basic premise in mind.


The book starts off with a dead body and a woman, Ellie, shaken by her first murder. Chapters alternate between ‘then’ and ‘now’ so that we understand how she got to her situation. There’s some romance that I didn’t care much about and a quick pace as Ellie moves from one location to the next on her mission to save her husband. This non-linear style also keeps things interesting since it requires the reader to do a little more work, but not that much, since this is an easy read.

It’s a beach read set on a beach resort with characters hiding dark secrets and a shady past—the usual thriller romance thoroughfare.

Review: Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

I’ve been on a thriller kick ever since reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, followed by You  and its sequel, Hidden Bodies, by Caroline Kepnes. I hadn’t felt as excited reading anything since finishing Hidden Bodies in March, but my latest book haul has me blogging again after a long hiatus. It was the aesthetic, pink book jacket that first caught my eye when I spotted Perfect Days sitting with the new adult fiction titles. It seemed like chick lit at first, but I was intrigued by a review on the back:

A chilling, twisty, exposed nerve of a novel. Even creepier than Gone Girl. I loved it. —Lauren Beukes

Knowing how much I liked Gone Girl, and the the first-person psychopath-stalker narration and plot, reminiscent of You, had me reading this one as soon as I got home. Perfect Days is more like You than Gone Girl, but a shorter and a less engaging read than either.


Teo narrated in abrupt sentences most of the time, a stark contrast to the run-on thoughts Joe has as he observes the world and his victim, Guinevere Beck. I connected with Joe and often had a good understanding of Beck’s motivations. What bothered me about Perfect Days was that I didn’t understand Clarice’s motivations at certain points. It seemed like she wanted to get away from Teo most of the time: she points a gun at him and actually pulls the trigger without knowing that the gun was unloaded, she ties him up and tortures him when she finally knocks him out with a lantern on that deserted island that they go to.

She does so much for her own survival that I was completely disappointed when she attempts to end her own life when she learned that Bruno had been killed and that she might have been complicit in it. I’m not sure how she could believe she’d been complicit when she’s always either tied up or drugged up. But, even then, I was disappointed that she was so ready to hurt herself instead of using that anger and hurt against Teo somehow. Now that would have been interesting.

Instead, she passes out in the water, Teo unlocks himself from his chains because she leaves the key on the table next to him. First, I find it unbelievable that she would leave the key within his reach, and second, the moment when Teo severs her spine was the first moment I actually sympathized with what Teo was doing. That was the first moment in the book when I was horrified but also nodding my head in agreement with his actions.


I was actually expecting (and hoping, if I’m being totally honest) that Clarice would die, whether in the car crash or in a coma at the hospital. I did not expect her to wake up with amnesia (how convenient) and totally lose all traces of her former self. What happened to her bisexuality? What about her rebellious nature? Those things didn’t just happen when she got to university, did they?

I was also confused by the last line, when she finds out she is pregnant and proposes the name Gertrude for the baby. I guess that was supposed to hint that she had some of her memories still? But it also means that she’s complicit in the lie she’s living, and that makes her totally unsympathetic as a character. Either way, Teo doesn’t learn any kind of lesson in the end. Neither does Joe, I suppose, but somehow I’m more disturbed by Teo than Joe. Joe never tries to change Beck the way Teo changes Clarice. I think that’s the big difference for me.

I wanted to read more reactions from people about how they interpreted the ending, but found few. Julia Irion Martins has a great essay about what Teo actions mean as a vehicle for a larger critique about certain female character tropes, and I liked the discussion in the last five minutes of the Front Porch Podcast, though I didn’t particularly agree with their constant comparisons to Gone Girl. 

In the end, Perfect Days ran hallow for me. I didn’t feel moved, inspired, changed, or even reflective after reading it. I felt relieved that I was done and disappointed by the ending. Even if I wasn’t comparing this book to You, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it that much. I didn’t root for Teo, and I didn’t root for Clarice.


Review: The Social Climber’s Handbook

My second review! Like my first review, this one contains spoilers.

After reading and reviewing Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford, I wanted to read another book about social climbing with a main character who has a better time of it. Enter The Social Climber’s Handbook by Molly Jong-Fast whose back cover included phrases as “American Psycho for the Bergdorf’s set.” Fun!


Before I begin though, I want to point on something weird about the dedication. Molly Jong-Fast dedicated this book to her husband “who helped write this book. Really.” I can’t put my finger on why I find this dedication so weird, but I think if I helped write a book… I’d want to be credited on the cover.

Okay, onto the book! Every chapter starts off with a heading of the date and how many points the Dow and S&P moved. I assumed the S&P referred to the S&P500 which is a bundle of stocks that people use to talk about how well the market is doing. I’ve heard the Dow mentioned on TV for the same reason. Anyway, since the book takes place during the financial crisis, I assumed the Dow and S&P would be dropping points every day, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the heading and if there was any huge drop in points, I likely missed it.


That isn’t to say I didn’t entirely know what was going on with all the finance lingo. I’d taken a macroeconomics class freshman year of college and my professor’s specialty was actually the housing crisis so I have a fairly good idea of what Dick was freaking out about when he realized his family and the world he knew was about to implode.

Daisy is a funny, former-fat girl, now rich Park Avenue “mummy” married to Dick who is a quant at a bank. The pair have 8-year-old twins, Easton who is one of the most popular girls in her grade, and Avery—who is not even close. I don’t remember much about Avery, except that she is bullied by the daughter of Landon Stone, Daisy’s arch-nemesis and frenemy.

I found it an intriguing combination, and the book is alternates between the perspectives of several characters, so I didn’t find it hard to find parts of each character that I related to. There were also minor characters like Dick’s mistress, a wanna-be Gawker-type who wants to write a huge story on what she suspects Dick knows and her on-and-off boyfriend who is also a wanna-be reporter. They were okay, but not memorable enough for me to remember their names, so that’s probably pretty telling for you.

I didn’t laugh out loud but I certainly lol’d a few parts, especially when Daisy’s husband begins realizing he’d better start taking his wife more seriously, like in this scene about halfway through the book:

“What about…” He couldn’t ask her if she was going to murder him. People didn’t ask questions like that, and besides, he didn’t really want to know the answer if, God forbid, it was yes. And how could he really really trust a no anyway? She changed her mind all the time.

I liked Daisy sometimes, but mostly I found her thoughts and life pretty sad: always seeking approval and never getting the attention she really wanted from her husband. I was rooting for her when she started taking charge in the marriage and in her life, and I loved the ambivalent ending about whether she’d ever be caught.

tl;dr it’s a light, quick read. It won’t stay with you, but it’ll entertain you while it’s there.


Rise and Shine

Hello, this is the start of a new blog for all the books that I’ve been reading lately, and I’m kicking it off with my thoughts on Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford. I’ll be discussing this book in its entirety, so you’ll want to have read the book first before reading my take on it, unless, of course, you’re reading my post for spoilers. 😉

I picked up Everybody Rise because I was hooked on the girl-gets-job-at-a-social-network-for-the-elite-website premise. I thought that the main character’s job would be to chronicle the lives of the elite on the site and then eventually get sucked into vying for a position in the very lives that she observed. I was imagining that she’d be working for a site like Socialite Rank, an anonymous blog active from 2006-2007, which posted a weekly ranking of socialites in New York and was said to have manipulated the city’s gossip cycle, elevated unknown women to unlikely prominence, and gained thousands of readers, who filled the comment boards with catty and frequently venomous remarks.”

A “mathematical” equation to rank socialites? Ok, I can get on board with that.

Evelyn would have been so much more interesting if her goal was to ingratiate herself into the It crowd in order to reveal their secrets one-by-one, or use it as leverage to boost her own position. Things still might have ended badly for her, but at least she would not have been such an annoying sycophant. Evelyn’s time in Queen Bee Camilla’s inner circle were the most annoying, and I soon started skim-reading because I couldn’t stand Evelyn’s avoidant personality. 

I was also disappointed at how spectacularly things blew up for Evelyn. I think her fatal flaw was that she didn’t know how to use leverage or manage her money. I could totally relate to her obsession with joining a crowd that she wasn’t born into, but I could not relate to her excessive spending or why she couldn’t leverage the power of her online social network to outrank Camilla. Anyway, Evelyn ends up completely broke, moves in with her mother after her father, a hot-shot trial lawyer gets sent to prison after pleading guilty to bribing a witness (yeah, that came out of nowhere in the book, and I definitely wish more time had been spent on explaining that situation), and working at a local coffeeshop.

The saddest thing about this book? Evelyn was 26, yet she didn’t understand what happens when you ignore all your credit card statements.

I didn’t find the end redeeming. I felt like she totally gave up on her dream of becoming the person she truly wanted to be, and that’s my problem with these social-climbing-cautionary-tales: it’s not bad to want to be somebody different, but if your first attempt fails spectacularly, it means you need to adjust your strategy.

This is not a story about what happens when people try to be “People Like Us.” This is what happens when you avoid your problems and keep repeating the same actions expecting a different result.

I recommend skipping this book and reading this excellent New York Magazine article on the true story of the battle for control of the New York City social circuit by Tinsley Mortimer, Olivia Palermo, and instead: The Number One Girl.

Do you know of any books where the main character attempts a social transformation and actually succeeds? Post a comment below and let me know!

tl;dr 2/10 skim-read if you must