Good Premise, Bad Execution

Girl about Town - Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan

I thought that this would be a book to challenge my apathy toward the YA genre. It almost was. But unfortunately it had a few too many flaws.


I hated Lulu. She was good for the first section, but once she'd been in Hollywood for a year she was shallow and self-absorbed. And the authors' attempt to paint her as a compassionate person by giving a poor man who had attempted to sexually assault her was a fail. Her willingness to do just about anything (short of attempted murder or risking suicide) to get fame and money and keep fame and money was nauseating. She and Sal really would have been a good match. They would have been a good powerhouse villain couple. Too bad Lulu (and the authors) didn't get the memo. I kept waiting for Lulu to have some character growth, but she never did. I don't know what Freddie saw in her.


Freddie was fantastic. Recently disillusioned with his father's ill-gotten wealth, he's been living as a hobo for a year, and he is sweet, sincere, brave, strong and kind. He isn't bitter with his situation (unlike Lulu) and he's willing to sacrifice his own wants to help her, even though she's extremely selfish. I honestly don't know what he saw in her that made him want to stay with her after he got her name cleared. I mean, she's beautiful and headstrong, but she seems to have more bad characteristics then good ones, and Freddie doesn't seem like he would be shallow enough to stick with her just because she's pretty. I wish that this book would have been about Freddie only, without Lulu.


Vasily's story seemed to me to be a way for the author to show his anti-Catholicism. Homosexuality was not accepted by any religion, and was still largely condemned by atheists and agnostics in the thirties, but of course the Catholic Polish parents are completely evil who would do force one son into the priesthood and the other into their meatpacking business. Ugh. If it hadn't been for his story being used as a conduit for anti-Catholic propaganda, I would have really liked Vasily, even though I don't agree with homosexual actions.


The ending was terrible. After Lulu spent most of the book being a weak and whiney character, the authors decided to wave flags that said 'feminist' on them by making her break up with Freddie because she doesn't want people to think her success was because he was rich (if she had really loved him then she would have been willing to put up with people's idiocy in attributing her successes to him,) but then he comes groveling to her because he doesn't mind being a 'kept man,' and he doesn't care if people attribute his successes to her. This makes her look like a selfish brat (which, granted, she is,)but it also makes him look like a weak fool who is willing to love someone who doesn't love him back. He left his father with all his wealth, he left his beautiful fiancé who he had just realized was shallow, but he's willing to put up with Lulu's unreasonable behavior? I don't buy it. In addition to being unfair to Freddie, and making Lulu look even worse than she had the entire book, this also gives an unreasonable and unrealistic representation of a relationship. Essentially Lulu isn't willing to give anything to Freddie, but Freddie is more than willing to do extra work to keep their relationship from failing. That is not how real relationships work. If one person has to do all the work to keep the relationship going, then it's not really a relationship. Relationships are supposed to be partnerships, where the two parties are more-or-less equal. Sometimes one person is doing more work, and sometimes the other is, but overall the amount of work must come to about half-and-half, and that is not what this book showed. One other point about this books flop of an ending. One way to see whether you aren't being sexist toward men, is to reverse the scenario; if Freddie had told Lulu that he wanted to break up with her because he was afraid that people would attribute his successes to her and she came back, grovelingly telling him that she didn't mind being a 'kept woman;' would you find that offensive? I would, and so I also found the treatment of Freddie's character offensive.


This could have been a really good book. It was different from most YA books, it was interesting, and I was in the mood to listen to 20s-50s big band music, which was part of the reason why I picked up this book when I did, but there were a few too many problems, and the ending destroyed the bit of respect I had still had before I finished it.