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Posted August 26, 2013
Readers looking for a how-to will find the characters that Jones presents crass and demeaning. People who have read the 80s and lived the 80s will find them true to life. There is a delicious “Last Days of Disco” feel to the read. Jones’ characters are very complex. They each have their own goals and hidden desires and insecurities and Jones conveys those quirks beautifully. The characters are distinct in the sense that if a reader was given dialogue from each, they would easily pick out the speakers.
The subject matter is raw, as would be expected of this sort of the story set in the 80’s. The narrative flows easily between the three main characters leading readers to become invested in their experiences. There are story-lines left unresolved but in a way very typical of this sort of period fiction. The age of true excess. In accordance with the excess Growing Up Beautiful: A Novel About Three Models in Milan is a fast moving story which gives readers insight into a field not much talked about in its stripped down light. I found Star’s story the most compelling. She was a poor girl in a bad situation looking for a way out. What may have seemed the golden opportunity doesn’t turn out as she thought it might. Jones’ tale will cause any prospective model to think twice as even now we get hints that some of the pressures exist. As the tale of a job in the 80s, it was a truly interesting read.
Posted August 23, 2012
Growing Up Beautiful races quickly from the gate, introducing readers to the three main characters in the book and providing background information on them, including why each woman has decided to leave her home and accept an offer to model in Milan during the summer of 1986. The beginning also explains the modeling agency’s hierarchy, including who really holds the power to make or break a model’s chances at success in Milan.
I was immediately drawn into the world that the author created for her characters. The novel intertwines individual story lines for Star, Joanne, and Casey with experiences all three of them share in their new world of modelling and parties. At times I thought that the women were being treated more as ‘escorts’ than models, and I also wondered whether a seventeen-year-old (Casey), would really have been set loose in Milan without a chaperone to protect her, but accepted the author’s premise that it could happen.
This is a perfect book to read in the summer–I was able to immerse myself in the lives of young women who desperately want to succeed in a very-adult world and who are faced with multiple challenges, roadblocks, and questionable ethics in their bids to become famous models.
Although I thought there were inconsistencies with some of the characters’ actions–for example when Star reminds her two room-mates that they have to appear worldly but then acts like a country hick right afterwards at a dinner party–I still enjoyed the story and thought the author did a good job with pacing and dialogue.
I was a bit disappointed when the book’s ending didn’t wrap the story lines up in neat bows, but when I read there will be a sequel to Growing Up Beautiful, I realized the book ended the only way it could for now. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to escape into another world for a while and I look forward to reading Lori’s next book.