Semi-Charmed Life by Nora Zelevansky
In Nora Zelevansky’s hilarious debut, Semi-Charmed Life, an Upper West Side naïf, Beatrice Bernstein, gets swept up in the seemingly magical life of socialite Veruca Pfeffernoose, while ghost writing her blog. Veruca’s glitteringly opulent world soon seduces Beatrice away from her own insular, arty family with a promise of fancy parties, travel outside Manhattan (for once) and one desperately cute guy. But when her new glitzy lifestyle starts to take on dark undertones, Beatrice has to decide who she is—once and for all. With her own magical touch, Zelevansky deftly explores the world of rarified Manhattan in this sparkling modern fairy tale of first love, finding one’s voice and growing up. (Goodreads)
Beatrice hails from a quirky, contemporary family. Her parents are well-known in the art world, her sis is somewhat of a local celeb and Beatrice has yet to really make her name. Upon returning to student housing to begin her senior year in college, she stumbles upon the ultra-hip Veruca Pfeffernoose. Veruca is one of those beautiful people famous for being, well, famous. She and her entourage have mysteriously taken over several loft spaces and filled them with her über fabulousness.
One housing mixup and killer cockroach attack later (with a cute guy to the rescue, holla!) and Beatrice finds herself accepting an odd, but welcome opportunity to bunk in Veruca’s posh pad in exchange for ghost writing her blog. All she has to do is shadow her every move and write it up each night. And Bea is swept away by it all. She has to put away her thrift store clothes, spend a little less time with the family and basically emulate Veruca’s life. And soon she has to decide if it’s all worth it.
I wish there was a way to properly convey the absolutely yummy quirkiness of this book. Zelevansky’s writing is so charming, so fun, so clever beyond words. She created a world that I both recognized and yet, felt I could only imagine through time spent reading celeb gossip and watching E News. The whole story has a sweet sense of magical illusions that the author later explains, while still leaving a bit to the imagination. Her words are like butter. What does that mean exactly? To me, it means this: They’re deliciously put together, soft and sort of flowery and overflowing with sass. The characters are lively and the entire story is unlike anything I’ve read. It was a breath of fresh air.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 This book is very different and super-cute.
At that moment the door almost swung off its hinges, and in marched Veruca Pfeffernoose in all her sparkling glory. A spotlight emanating from some unseen source followed the girl as she walked. A trail of golden confetti–like dust glittering in a stream of sunlight–swelled and then disappeared in her wake. Today, her outfit riffed on a Catholic schoolgirl uniform: Her hair was pulled up in a Gwen Stefani-inspired ponytail with an exaggerated rockabilly rise at the front, and her plaid miniskirt screamed punk. Her nails were painted tangerine and her lips were again the color of dew-touched coral. Had he cheekbones actually lifted overnight? All the girls and gay boys in class rustled in their bags for pens, pencils, and iPhones to scrawl “orange nail polish”on grocery lists. An emotional few even shed single tears. The straight guys just stared, mouths agape, and dreamed of tousling that perfect pony.(pg 41)
Ben was like a personified amalgam of her favorite things: beach bonfires, honeysuckle, cedar closets, perfect buttery T-shirts, twinkling lanterns, baking bread and chocolate chip cookies, BBQs with friends, lazy Sunday afternoons, sparkly cement sidewalks, sixth-grade love letters, chenille blankets, and apple orchards. Plus, he was really hot. (pg 290)
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of Semi-Charmed Life!