Saturday, July 21, 2012

Semi-Charmed Life

Semi-Charmed Life
Nora Zelevansky
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
336 pages
Available on
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

There are some things I just do not understand about people. For instance, why are there Kardashians? Why do we allow them to exist outside of their home? Why do we allow those Jersey Shore cretins to make more money than an entire platoon of troops? Why do people watch crap like that on television?

It isn't that Nora Zelevansky answers those questions in Semi-Charmed Life, but she does get to the essence of why we so willingly follow these idiots off cliffs: fame, fortune and free swag.

College senior Beatrice Bernstein finds herself caught up in the whirlwind known as Veruca Pfeffernoose, a blonde socialite (think Paris Hilton, another parasite whose fame is beyond all rational thought) who hires Beatrice to ghost write a blog detailing Veruca's high flying lifestyle. Of course Beatrice falls in thrall with private planes, facials and Balenciaga bags. She even finds herself copping Veruca's attitude.
To the unknowing onlooker, Beatrice might easily have been the crew's queen bee. She was now a fully indoctrinated member of Veruca's gang. In observing the media princess so closely she had unconsciously picked up some habits, including the socialite's coy crinkling of the nose whenever she was digging in her heels. She'd also perfected the blank stare, which Veruca - and now Beatrice - used to avoid communicating an actual opinion, perhaps about a given reality TV star or gossip columnist.
Yes, poor Beatrice. all of that free designer footwear and top shelf champagne is like the serpent in the Garden of Eden: nothing good can come of it. Beatrice compromises her credo, not to mention warps her moral compass. She ditches friends and family, while coveting Veruca's hot boyfriend Ben.

Can Beatrice be saved?

Well, of course she can. What might have made this a better book is if she COULDN'T. But ... just because this is predictable does not mean it is not enjoyable. There are a few zigs when you think Zelevansky will zag, and Beatrice is someone we really do want to rescue. We can't leave her with Veruca and her pals, aka the Axis of Evil.

Zelevansky take us around the world with Beatrice, Veruca and their hangers-on, and we can understand why Beatrice cannot resist the pull of Veruca's orbit. Yes, you easily an predict the outcome. But this is a fun, escapist book that might even cause you to question the popularity of real-life Verucas. If we are so stupid as to condone their fame, can we blame them? Or ourselves?

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