Title: Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe
Author: Jenny Hollowell
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Paperback: 256 pages
A young woman caught at the turning point between success and failure hopes fame and fortune will finally let her leave her old life—and her old self—behind
Birdie Baker has always dreamed of becoming someone else. At twenty-two, she sets off to do just that. Walking out on her pastor husband and deeply evangelical parents, she leaves behind her small-town, small-time life and gets on a bus to Los Angeles.
Nine years later, Birdie’s life in Hollywood is far from golden, and nothing in the intervening years—the brutal auditions, the tawdry commercials—has brought her any closer to the transformation she craves. Caught between success and failure, haunted by guilt about a tragedy in her long-forsaken family, Birdie is at the brink of collapse when she meets Lewis, a beautiful but naïve young actor with his own troubled history, whose self-destructive impulses run dangerously parallel to her own.
When her big chance finally comes, Birdie must reconcile the wide-eyed girl she once was with the jaded starlet she has become and try to find herself and her future somewhere in between. Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe is the story of a young woman’s struggle to make her own way in the Technicolor land of make-believe.
Finally a book that is not filled with sunshine and happiness, Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe by Jenny Howell breaks the mold of “girl changes her life and becomes tremendously happy”. Howell presents a sad, and confused protagonist who is looking to escape her deeply religious upbringing and become famous, offering the reader a satirical look into Hollywood through the eyes of Birdie, who leaves her husband and her past behind and reinvents herself in Hollywood. Birdie alternates present day with bits and pieces of memories, real or imagined from her past in an attempt to better understand Birdie, to see how far she has come, and to realize she has not come far at all, save becoming an accomplished liar. From her earliest memories, Birdie has wanted to be someone she was not. Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe is an intriguing look at a young woman’s yearning to find happiness and what she finds is the superficial nature of Hollywood. Birdie is a character that either the reader will like or dislike, but either way I think all readers will be able to identify with at least some aspects of Birdie. Witty, satirical, sad, lonely, and utterly fabulous, Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe is a book I would recommend to everyone.
Jenny Hollowell’s short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Scheherezade, and the anthology New Sudden Fiction, and was named a distinguished story by Best American Short Stories. She received an MFA from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow in Fiction and recipient of the Balch Short Story Award. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. This is her first novel.
I received a complimentary copy of Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe by Jenny Hollowell from Henry Holt and Company Publishers to review. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.