Three Girls and Their Brother

Three Girls and Their Brother

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by Theresa Rebeck

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Now that it’s all over, everybody is saying it was the picture–that stupid picture was behind every disaster. . . .

They may be the granddaughters of a famous literary critic, but what really starts it all is Daria, Polly, and Amelia Heller’s stunning red hair. Out of the blue one day, The New Yorker calls and says that they want to feature…  See more details below


Now that it’s all over, everybody is saying it was the picture–that stupid picture was behind every disaster. . . .

They may be the granddaughters of a famous literary critic, but what really starts it all is Daria, Polly, and Amelia Heller’s stunning red hair. Out of the blue one day, The New Yorker calls and says that they want to feature the girls in a glamorous spread shot by a world-famous photographer, and before long these three beautiful nobodies from Brooklyn have been proclaimed the new “It” girls.

But with no parental guidance–Mom’s a former beauty queen living vicariously through her daughters, and Dad is nowhere to be found–the three girls find themselves easy prey for the sharks and piranhas of show business. Posing in every hot fashion magazine, tangling with snarling fashonistas and soulless agents, skipping school and hitting A-list parties, the sisters are caught up in a whirlwind rise to fame that quickly spirals out of control.

When Amelia, the youngest of the three–who never really wanted to be a model in the first place–appears in an Off-Broadway play, the balance of power shifts, all the pent-up resentment and pressure comes to a head, and the girls’ quiet, neglected brother reaches a critical point of virtual breakdown. And against the odds, even as the struggle for fame threatens to tear the family apart, the Hellers begin to see that despite the jealousy, greed, and uncertainty that have come to define their relationships, in the celebrity world of viciousness and betrayal, all they really have is one another.

Narrated in four parts, from the perspective of each sibling, Three Girls and Their Brother is a sharp, perceptive, and brilliantly written debut novel from an acclaimed playwright.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rebeck's engaging tale of the Heller sisters, three young women whose quick rise to superstardom after a New Yorker photo shoot, is a witty, insider look at the world of celebrity. However, narrators Cassandra Campbell and David Drummond butcher the novel with absolutely brutal performances that are at once over-the-top and completely uninspired. Campbell, reading predominantly female roles, is drier than happy hour at the Betty Ford Center. Her characters are flat, one-dimensional, and downright boring; her awful attempt at a British dialect is laughable at best. Drummond's reading is equally as tired and over pronounced; his characters are unbelievable and his voice grates. A disappointment and disservice to Rebeck's dazzling novel. A Shaye Areheart hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 24).
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Library Journal

This novel by playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebeck is a surreal tale of adolescent celebrity in modern New York City. Three teenage sisters-Amelia, Daria, and Polly-become the darlings of the fashion model industry. Their already dysfunctional family falls further apart, leaving the listener to ponder the value of celebrity status. Superfluous use of profanity throughout the narrative distracts from the story line. The portrayal of the siblings is effectively divided between Audie Award-winning actor David Drummond, who provides the voice of the brother, Philip, and actress Cassandra Campbell, who characterizes the sisters. The duality of their voices compels the listener through the story; Campbell's vocal work particularly captures the pathos of Amelia, the youngest. This fictionalized account of split-second stardom may be popular in libraries where celebrity gossip magazines are in high demand. An optional purchase for larger public libraries. [Rebeck's play Mauritius won Boston's prestigious Irene and Elliot Norton Award and premiered on Broadway in 2007; Three Girls is also available as downloadable audio from]
—Lisa Powell Williams

School Library Journal

Adult/High School- This debut novel by a Peabody award-winning playwright has its finger on the pulse of what's current and happening. It is also a very old story of exploitation, greed, and over-the-top drama done in four first-person voices: the eponymous Heller siblings-three beautiful red-haired teenage girls-and, oh yes, their brother. The tale begins with a classy picture in Vanity Fair by a noted photographer and ends, semi-tragically, in the way that all celebrity stories seem to end-in tabloid headlines and with paparazzi shots and court proceedings. Reading this book is like eating too much candy; it tastes good and you want to wolf it all down, but by the time you're done, it will make you feel sick. The three sisters, although different, become so manipulated by others that if the sections weren't labeled, it would be difficult to tell the point of view had changed from voice alone. Their rabid vanity becomes grating, while the nonexistence of any parental responsibility bodes ill for their futures and that of the only sympathetic character, their brother. Still, teens who like Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" or Zoey Dean's "A-List" series (both Little, Brown) will devour this with no indigestion.-Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI

Kirkus Reviews
Four teenage siblings, suddenly spotlit by fame, are forced to take responsibility when the grownups in their lives offer inadequate guidance. Playwright Rebeck's first novel is a wickedly enjoyable expose of modern celebrity; the cruel power wielded by fashionistas, PR minders, agents, paparazzi, Hollywood stars and entourages; and above all the perils of becoming an overexposed young star. It's the Heller sisters' red hair (and their famous grandfather's reputation) that first gets them noticed. After "insanely beautiful" Daria, Polly and Amelia (18, 17 and 14 respectively) are photographed for the New Yorker, they are dubbed the next big thing. Soon the snowball of fame is gathering speed, but Amelia nearly derails it when she bites an aging, lecherous movie action hero who gropes her at the W bar. An apology on Regis and Kelly smoothes things over, and the show is back on the road, with modeling shoots for Elle, Vogue and Glamour. Then Amelia is invited to appear in an off-Broadway play, which renders her more famous and more vulnerable than her sisters. The fourth sibling is Philip, whose protectiveness toward Amelia gets him expelled from their Brooklyn home and sent to live with their divorced father. The siblings take turns narrating the story, and Rebeck's dramatic skills are evident in the youthful, often profane voices. A farcical shootout of a conclusion in a chic hotel, with the brother and sisters trying to save Amelia's virtue, drives home the book's message: The desire to be famous is a contagious disease of infinite proportions. A timely and entertaining modern morality tale. Agent: Loretta Barrett/Loretta Barrett Books
From the Publisher
"A wickedly enjoyable exposé of modern celebrity.... Timely and entertaining." —Kirkus Starred Review

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"A wickedly enjoyable exposé of modern celebrity.... Timely and entertaining." —-Kirkus Starred Review

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Three Girls and Their Brother 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could't put this book down! It was humorous and insightful. The story told from each sibling's viewpoint helped me relate to each character and made me want the story to keep going after I was done.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Claiming as a way to pay homage to the late great literary critic Leo Heller, the New Yorker magazine wants to do a piece on his three granddaughters and grandson. Their mom has the brain of a lifetime beauty queen who though has seen her prettier days still lives the glory through her daughters she sees this as good publicity and the road to Hollywood. Their dad has not been around in ages so his opinion if he even has one does not matter. --- The oldest eighteen year old Daria is rapturous as she sees this as her chance to become a supermodel. The middle daughter seventeen year old Polly is almost as elated. The youngest female fourteen year old Amelia is at best tepid as she does not mind the magazine piece as long as it does not greatly intrude on her lifestyle. The only male fifteen year old Philip does not trust the New Yorker as he believes they are being set up for an exposure worthy of the tabloids. However, mommy dearest ignores the concerns of her only son saying he is too male and too young to understand the opportunities for his sisters she will do anything to get her daughters on Broadway or Southern California. --- This is an amusing look at fame from four teens receiving fifteen minutes of it each. Especially enlightening is the insightful comparisons made by the youngest sibling as Amelia observes voluntary starvation as a norm of some vocations. Philip seems older than he is with his wisdom honed by survival skills as the lone bull his observations re his mom and two older sisters are priceless. The other three females seem amusingly inane as all they can see is fame and fortune. Although a revenge subplot seems ridiculous as it deters from an otherwise superb family drama, fans will enjoy this powerful lampooning of the fame seekers. --- Harriet Klausner