Grrr. So I’ve been waiting for a set of used Goosebumps books to arrive from an auction I won on eBay (fifteen books for ten dollars, dammit!) but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, at least not in the next few days. So, lacking any faux-scary monsters and/or cuckoo clocks, I’d like to present something even more frightening…
The glamorous life of a 90’s era New York model!
Some of you may remember when I did a quick blurb about this book (sans recap) a few weeks ago. If you’d like to read the glorious prose of the back-cover blurb, check it out HERE. Basically, though, this book is about a stereotypical Nebraska girl named Paige who is discovered by Ford Models and whisked away to New York. Exciting, no?
So we start off with… um, well, I guess this part is supposed to be a prologue or something, since it’s all in italics, but it’s supposed to be a part of the narrative even though it doesn’t say “prologue” or anything…
Ugh, whatever. Anyway, we start off with fifteen-year-old ginger goddess Paige Sanders getting a super-exciting phone call from Jill Murray in New York. Apparently, Paige’s grandmother (“Nana” to her friends) sent baby girl’s picture into the agency. The folks at Ford were so dazzled that now they’re offering to send Paige to New York to take some test photos.
In the next few scenes, we’re in lame ass Wheeler, Nebraska as Paige prepares for her big trip to NYC. There’s a lot of corn pone crap in this section–lots of talk about Nana, checkered table clothes, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the big scary city. This actually is rather similar to what I had to go through at home before running off to college, except without all the talk about proper condom use.
Paige’s father is particularly worried about his li’l girl, saying that New York “doesn’t seem like the right place for a kid.”
Nana points out that plenty of people grow up in New York and end up just fine.
Yeah, ‘nuff said.
Oh, and then there’s this softball game behind the barn with the Nelson boys. Paige is jonesing on one of the boys, Tommy, who she has “started looking at in a different way lately.” And why the hell not? Tommy Nelson sounds like one smooth operator, calling Paige such sweet nick-names as “Carrot Top.”
So anyway, Paige gets to New York and Jill Murray’s assistant, Carla, picks her up at the airport. Instead of stopping for something quick to eat like most people, they get right down to business and head to Ford’s downtown office. All I gotta say is… get used to it, Paigey. You know the camera adds ten pounds.
I’ll skip all the crap where Paige freaks out about all the big, impressive buildings. Apparently the all live in straw huts in Nebraska. Paige doesn’t even know what a tram is, so Carla has to explain that lots of people take it to work and stuff. At this point, I was half-expecting Paige to mention that everyone in Wheeler just takes a horse and buggy.
I wish I could write that, instead of taking Paige to Ford, Carla just decided to drop Paige off at the nearest subway to see how long she would survive. Eventually Paige would end up turning tricks in Chelsea, and possibly end up on some HBO special or something. But, alas, no…
We arrive at Ford, where Paige meets Jill Murray and even (OMFG!) Eileen Ford. After Paige makes googly eyes at everything and everyone in the office, Carla drops her off at her new, super-spiffy digs, an apartment that she’ll share with several other hot young models.
This is where we meet Pia Giovanni, from Italy.
Seriously–that’s how she introduces herself. And for the rest of the book, she talks like Tonto, with no contractions and extremely simple grammar. The other housemates are introduced then, too, and they’re all pretty much cardboard cut-outs who stand where substantial, well-developed characters should be. Mostly what identifies them is their respective countries of origin… Pia from Italy, Katerina from Russia, Cassandra from Brazil, etc.. It’s like a Benetton ad, except with stirrup pants.
We also meet Mrs. Hill, the house mother, who is assigned to keep the ladies in line and/or free from pregnancy. Stupid ass Paige comments that Mrs. Hill must be the right person for the job because she isn’t “stylish and intimidating” but is, instead, kind of “heavyset… like my mother.” Huh?
That night, Paige is too excited to sleep, and so we’re treated to a diary entry, wherein she describes everything that we just read about. This is the point where I had to fight the urge to start stapling things to my head.
The next morning, the girls walk around New York with Carla, taking in the sights and snapping photos of shit. Paige rides on the subway for the very first time, and is freaked out by how quickly the train moves. Paige, honey… are you Amish or something? I’m surprised she didn’t go totally apeshizz on the big fancy airplane. Damn.
During this tour, we get a little taste of the girls’ personalities, which I guess is supposed to be interesting. Basically, Katerina is a bitch, Pia is supposed to be sweet and bubbly, and Naira is the street-wise one. Somewhere in there, Kerri and Cassandra are supposed to develop personalities, too, but I’m having a hard time distinguishing them.
Oh, and Pia gives us all a nice tip for silky, sexy hair–olive oil. Just put a little on before you wash your hair. She acts like it’s this big Italian thing, since they’re always using olive oil for cooking, salads, and tanning. Is that the Italian equivalent to rubbing mayo on your head? I think so. I haven’t tried either because I hate messy things, but if anyone does this, it would be cool if it worked.
So yeah, we do some touristy crap, talk about hair for awhile, then we get to the photo shoot. Yay! Finally things are getting interesting!
Ummm… not so much. There’s more talk about haircuts, makeup, and clothes. We suddenly find out that Paige wears glasses, which has never been mentioned prior to this as far as I remember. There’s some dumb mishap with her glasses and she has to fix the sides up with electrical tape. On the way home, the other girls tell her that she really needs to get contacts, which is probably a good idea. I’m sure Paige wants to do more than the “sexy librarian”-type shoots, so contacts would be a good move for her career.
Then the girls stop at a cute coffee bar called “The Cocoa Bean,” which is supposed to be all authentic and New York-y. Just imagine the “Central Perk” set of FRIENDS and you’ll get a pretty good idea about of what we’re supposed to be imagining here.
At the coffee house, a sexy waiter named Jordan suggests something called an “iced choco cappuccino” to Paige. As I said before, this is clearly a drink that absolutely defies all known laws of coffee physics (at least as I understand them as a former coffee house wench), so we know that Jordan is one special dude. Also, he gives the girls free coffee and writes Paige a flirty little note. Hawt!
The rest of the book contains crap about hair and makeup, some modeling crap, a bit more praise of Eileen Ford, and several more descriptions of Mrs. Hill as “heavyset” (which, in the modeling world, is really anybody over a size 4).
There’s a sub-plot with Paige going out on a date with Jordan, which is (surprise, surprise) pretty lame. Paige wears Pia’s big, clunky Eff Me Pumps and tries to be seductive by mentioning Tommy Nelson back home in Nebraska. Unsurprisingly, this kind of turns Jordan off.
Paige is feeling kind of weird and confused. She wishes that things in New York were as simpler as things in Wheeler, where the guys call you Carrot Top and play softball with you behind the barn.
“Playing softball”–is that what the kids call it these days?
Paige has her big breakthrough with Jordan when she realizes that she should just “be herself” after advising Katerina (who everybody thinks is a beyotch) to act natural so that the other girls will like her. Paige, did you ever think that Katerina is just a bitch, you know, naturally?
Anyway, Paige (who I guess is a bookworm or whatever) heads to the nearest library to get her Read on. There, she runs into Jordan, and the two have their first natural conversation since their initial meeting at the coffee place.
…and I guess that’s our climax? I’m not really sure. I don’t really think that the traditional three-act structure really applies to this book. We end with a mercifully brief diary entry from Paige wherein she describes how she’ll be staying in New York to pursue her modeling career and how she’s still going out with Jordan. She resolves to just be herself and is all, “I’m Paige Sanders, beyotch!”
“…They’d like you to come to New York as soon as possible, for test photos.”
“To New York?” I repeated. “You mean New York City?”
No, Paige, not NYC. Jill Murray wants you to go to New York, Arkansas. Dumbass.
The Moral of the Story:
Ugh… I honestly have no idea here, ok? This whole book is just a bunch of description porn about modeling, clothes, makeup, and hair, with a few bits of trite dialogue thrown in once and awhile. Overall, it was spectacularly craptastic and, sadly, just the kind of book that I would have devoured as a little girl. Go figure.