Full of deeply-flawed characters and tumultuous relationships, The Comeback by Ella Berman sheds light on so many issues that plague society today (like toxic masculinity, power abuse, and fame). Though this story is fictional, it felt so real and honest.
As a famous teen star, Grace Turner grew up in the public eye. After being plucked from her average life in England at 14 by director Able York, she’s transported to Hollywood to be “groomed” as a movie star. But it comes at a price: she spends eight years under Able’s control as he manipulates her every move.
Now in her early twenties, we see Grace after a drug-and-alcohol-ridden year of running away from everything and everyone. We watch as she grapples with the pain of her adolescent years, reconnects with her family and friends, and attempts to figure out the type of person she wants to be.
*I received a free digital ARC of this book from the publisher (Berkley Pub) in exchange for an honest review.
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The Comeback by Ella Berman: My Thoughts
This was an emotional, beautifully-written story. It started a bit slow, with Grace struggling to crawl her way out of the hole she’s dug herself into, but it wasn’t long before I was entranced.
She describes herself as being stuck in time, because with all the limelight and movie shoots, she was never really given the chance to grow up. The detail about her always showing up at Disneyland to sit in the dining room and eat Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles (where one time she proceeds to get in a tiff with Sleeping Beauty) was hilarious and sad in equal measure.
While I was frustrated with Grace’s choices at times, I also understood why she made them (especially as we see flashbacks of her past). I grew attached to her, and to some of the other characters, like Esme, Dylan, and Blake. They all felt so fully-formed.
I also really enjoyed the setting. To me, Los Angeles (Hollywood in particular), has always felt like a mirage you can’t help but stare at. It’s fascinating in an unsettling sort of way, with its shiny facade and artificial underbelly. Berman painted this living, breathing picture of brightly-colored houses, extreme wealth, uber-hip restaurants, and paparazzi waiting around every corner. The setting itself was a character all on its own.
Overall, this was a moving, absorbing, and incredibly important story. Highly recommended, especially if you enjoy character-driven novels!
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
(Publication date: August 3rd, 2020. Thank you to Berkley Pub for the review copy!)
Looking for more awesome books to read? Check out my list of the best books of summer 2020!