Confession: I picked this book up solely because it was by Lauren Graham. Yes, that Lauren Graham, of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fame. And I love her. Truly.
Despite picking this book up for what are probably the wrong reasons, I was pleasantly surprised to find how well done it was. It is chick lit, thus fitting with this month’s theme, but it was a really good story too.
Franny Banks is a twentysomething living in New York City in 1995. She lives with her two roommates: Jane and Dan. All three of them are somehow involved in “the business” of acting, writing, producing, etc. Franny is the narrator, and has set a strict deadline with herself. Upon moving to New York, she decided that she wouldn’t be “one of those people” who keep trying at acting well past the “give it up” point. Because of that, she gave herself three years to “make it,” and that three year deadline is up in six months. Thus begins Franny’s quest to prove to herself, friends, and family, that she can make acting work for her.
Franny takes an acting class, gets a real agent (after falling during her monologue at the showcase), and goes on multiple tryouts for commercials, plays, and tv shows. She also works odd jobs waitressing, catering, and is constantly concerned about her lack of income. In short, she is trying really hard to make it work. And for Franny, things are not always easy.
This book was reminiscent of Bridget Jones’s Diary, in that Franny keeps a ledger of sorts, so she can keep track of tryouts, appointments, what she ate, and how far she ran. Despite that similarity, Franny is different than Bridget. Franny is focused and determined. Self-deprecating, yes, but Franny is a unique person, working hard to find her way. Franny makes mistakes along the way, falls for the wrong guy, and is unemployed at times, but she is real.
I loved that this book had so much humor infused throughout, and that it wasn’t a book that was super serious. It was a sweet, charming story of a young woman trying to figure things out. The best part to me was that I was left wondering about how she progressed after the book ended. Graham didn’t make this into some movie star story, but she gave Franny successes and failures.
The book felt semi-autobiographical, which I cannot confirm, but makes me wonder what else Graham can come up with. Being set in 1995, I was impressed that there wasn’t overexplanation of the time period, as some writers do. It just was. First books are not always amazing, but this was a solid book, and I am looking forward to seeing what Graham writes next.
Some further reads I'd recommend are Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot, and The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.