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Publishers Weekly

There’s an authentic nose-pressed-against-the-glass feel to Mahin’s smart and funny debut, a spot-on poke at Hollywood celebrity and the longing that plays out in the fame factory. Jess, born and raised in Tinseltown, is the smart-aleck narrator who has a jaded view of the strivers who flock into Hollywood, yet she confesses her own vulnerability. “Maybe I’m not famous, but I’m famous-adjacent, and the glow from the heavy klieg lights is good enough for me,” she says of her employment as an assistant to actress Eva Carlton. Her fame-centric stage-mom from hell, Donna, however, triggers all Jess’s insecurities and anger at a childhood pushed toward careers she had no talent for—and toward people who abused her. “She lost ‘Mom’ when I was fourteen,” Jess explains to Eva about why she won’t call Donna Mom. When best friend and actress Megan faces her own crisis of love, outsider Jess learns to embrace and forgive the people who really matter. There are numerous places in which this heartfelt tale of acceptance could have careened into schmaltz, but Mahin expertly steers clear, gently guiding Jess from “square zero” to home. (Apr.)

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