Friday, March 31, 2023

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Hollywood Edition

You Can't Be Serious by Kal Penn (2021)

In You Can't Be Serious, actor Kal Penn shares his story, as the son of Indian immigrant parents, to fighting for his acting career, to taking a sabbatical and working for the Obama administration.  Even if you haven't seen a lot of him on screen, I think Penn is easily recognizable and his story is entertaining, frustrating, and heartwarming all at the same time.  A large part of his career has been spent facing and fighting racism, both overt and more subtle.  He describes his struggles in a clear manner, making the reader understand how atrociously people of color are treated sometimes.  It was a bit of a breath of fresh air to hear Penn talk about his time on the Obama campaign and later, give up his acting career for a time to work in the White House.  He doesn't get too political, you can really tell how important public service is to him and how he really just wants to help people.  Penn's writing style is very readable - he comes across as intelligent and charming and funny - plus, he's from my home state of New Jersey!  What's not to like about that?  4 stars

How To Fake It In Hollywood by Ava Wilder (2022)

At the advice of her publicist, a Hollywood actress starts a fake relationship with a reclusive former A-list actor, in order to raise her profile and help him make a comeback.  They soon realize their feelings are more than professional, but will his demons keep the two from finding their happy ending?  I really enjoyed this peek-behind-the-curtains look at the (fake) lives of celebrities - it was kind of giving me Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes vibes, with the age gap and the fame level of each person involved.  Ethan's strong feelings for Grey were kind of swoony, but I also had to keep in mind that he has addiction issues, which played a huge role in the story.  The Ethan that we get in this story - it was hard to reconcile that he was at one time one of the most famous and charismatic men in the world.  He could barely string a sentence together.  I was rooting for him to get better but wasn't convinced that Grey was the way to do it.  I appreciated her maturity, though.  Despite what the cover may convey, this definitely wasn't a lighthearted rom-com - there are a lot of dark, heavy topics, but fans of the fake dating trope will appreciate this one.  4 stars

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  1. I love Kal Penn so I think his book would be a great memoir to read!

  2. I was rooting for Ethan too. I loved How to Fake It! Both Ethan and Gray had their own issues, and I was happy they found each other

  3. I'm glad these were both good.

    Hope you're having a nice weekend :)

  4. Both of these sound like really nice reads!


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