There are many novels about women struggling to fit into upper-class communities, but debut author Valerie manages to create a story that feels fresh, with sparkling dialogue…A unique and over-the-top look at modern motherhood, full of funny and cringeworthy moments.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Valerie’s witty, rollicking novel is an ode to modern motherhood…A charmingly cautionary tale of the pursuit for domestic perfection.”
“Debut author Valerie’s excellent take on modern motherhood illustrates a mother’s attempts to keep up with the Joneses. Full of humor, including a bout with one too many detox cookies, an online psychic, and a cat doula, Valerie plays out the drama of being a wife and a mother. Perfect for fans of Laurie Gelman’s Class Mom series and the TV show
Desperate Housewives.” — Library Journal
“Julie Valerie does a great job relaying the anxiety that comes with starting your daughter in kindergarten in a new school and a new town. And she does it with the perfect mix of humor and humility.”
—Laurie Gelman, author of Class Mom and You’ve Been Volunteered
“Seemingly perfect lives are usually anything but, as the eponymous protagonist of
Holly Banks Full of Angst quickly learns. A sharp, witty, and altogether unexpected story about how striving can lead you straight to the end of your rope, Julie Valerie’s debut is not to be missed.” —Camille Pagán, bestselling author of I’m Fine and Neither Are You
Holly Banks Full of Angst is a must-read for any mother who sometimes feels inadequate—and what mother doesn’t? With themes of new beginnings, the quest for perfection, motherhood, and marriage, Valerie delivers lessons in hospitality, humanity, and hope, gently reminding us that we’re all works in progress. If you’re looking for a fun escape filled with humor and heart, look no further than Holly Banks Full of Angst.” —Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List
“You will love the time you spend with Holly Banks in the Stars Hollow–esque Village of Primm. Holly is the perfect heroine: flawed, impulsive, and self-deprecating but also deeply relatable, lovable, and hilarious. This book is pure fun (but be prepared to cry a little).
Holly Banks Full of Angst is the perfect read for anyone who has ever wanted to stick it to the Pinterest Mom.” —Suzy Krause, author of Valencia and Valentine
“With wit, whimsy, and an artful sleight of hand turn of more than a few phrases, Julie Valerie’s frothy cautionary tale of suburbia on steroids is like a finely crafted cocktail: effervescent but complex, sweet but with just a hint of bitter, and packing a potent punch. I’ll have what she’s having.”
—Josie Brown, author of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives and the Totlandia series
“With astonishing wit, razor-sharp dialogue, and pitch-perfect pacing, Julie Valerie has created a masterpiece about motherhood.
Holly Banks Full of Angst is absolutely hilarious yet also deeply poignant, with some of the best lines I’ve ever read. Both satire and upmarket women’s fiction, this novel will be beloved by readers everywhere.” —Samantha M. Bailey, author of Woman on the Edge
“Our plucky heroine, full of quippy asides and enough anxiety to keep us all up ruminating at 3:00 a.m., imagines herself the star of her own movie (because of course she dreams of ditching her SAHM life and fulfilling her long-lost film student aspirations). Personally, I would title her movie
Mean Girls for Moms, and you’d find me at the premiere, front row center!” —Lindsey J. Palmer, author of Otherwise Engaged, If We Lived Here, and Pretty in Ink
“Ever wonder what would happen if Liane Moriarty could channel the late Robin Williams? Me, neither—until I read this astonishing debut, a modern allegorical marvel. Valerie absolutely skewers Parenting While Privileged, and pulls it off without preaching or condescending, thanks to the irresistible, inimitable heroine, Holly, the (questionably) sane person in the insane (but wholly recognizable) world of Primm. I tore through this inventive, compulsive read, pausing only to catch my breath and wipe my eyes at passages so outrageously hilarious, I could not believe what I was reading. So come for the humor, but stay for the honesty. Valerie imbues the narrative with sincerity, and with truths so bald that, at times, the world fell away around me. I’m on my feet and clapping: Brava!”
—Sonja Yoerg, Washington Post bestselling author of True Places
“A fresh voice in fiction, Julie Valerie hits it out of the park with her debut novel,
Holly Banks Full of Angst. Wise and witty, it’s filled with humor that takes some wildly comical turns at times. Lead character Holly Banks, a newcomer to the idyllic village of Primm, is every mom who feels inadequate because her home isn’t Pinterest-worthy and she’s a less-than-perfect parent—totally relatable, in other words. Her good heart, which shines through even when she’s screwing up, ultimately triumphs over her good-intentions-gone-awry. Love, love, love this novel and can’t wait to read the next one by Julie Valerie.” —Eileen Goudge, New York Times bestselling author
DEBUT Holly Banks has just moved with her husband, Jack, and their five-year-old daughter, Ella, to the Village of Primm. Their house, with its (former) Pinterest-worthy front porch, is full of boxes, and an eyesore of a bedsheet is hung up in lieu of curtains. Holly is doing all she can to keep it together for Ella as she starts kindergarten. From missing the bus to hitting the bus, all on the first day, things start on the wrong foot. When Holly skips out early during the first PTA meeting, the president, Mary-Margaret St. James, makes sure Holly pays her dues by assigning her to various committees. Thus begins Holly's descent into a rabbit hole where exterior appearances are everything. Debut author Valerie's excellent take on modern motherhood illustrates a mother's attempts to keep up with the Joneses. Full of humor, including a bout with one too many detox cookies, an online psychic, and a cat doula, Valerie plays out the drama of being a wife and a mother.
VERDICT Perfect for fans of Laurie Gelman's "Class Mom" series and the TV show Desperate Housewives. —Erin Holt, Williamson Cty. P.L., Franklin, TN
A mom tries—and spectacularly fails—to fit into her new picture-perfect town.
When Holly Banks moves to the Village of Primm, she hopes it will be the start of a new adventure for her family. With its wonderful school system, immaculately tended lawns, and superinvolved parents, Primm couldn't be anything less than perfect. However, aspiring-filmmaker Holly soon realizes that the town bears a slightly creepy resemblance to Stepford (of the famous wives), and no one appreciates her minor failures to live up to the status quo—like, for example, showing up to kindergarten drop-off while wearing pajamas or accidentally hitting a school bus in her attempts to move her car. Holly quickly finds a nemesis in PTA president Mary-Margaret St. James, a bizarrely Primm-obsessed mom who talks about herself in the third person and won't let Holly leave the premises without volunteering for something (and not just for napkin duty, because everyone knows only the slacker moms sign up to bring napkins). But Holly has other things to worry about—for starters, she thinks her husband might be having an affair, she constantly has to pay her mother's gambling debts, and she's feeling bored and restless after putting her filmmaking dreams aside. Holly starts making her own documentary using the subject matter in front of her but soon realizes that Primm's perfect veneer hides more than a few secrets. There are many novels about women struggling to fit into upper-class communities, but debut author Valerie manages to create a story that feels fresh, with sparkling dialogue that could have come from a weirder version of
Gilmore Girls. Most of that is due to Holly's voice, which is quirky without ever being annoying, and the cast of wacky side characters who are satirical while still feeling like real human beings. There are even several laugh-out-loud moments, most of them revolving around the bug infestation destroying the town's prized topiaries, a privileged problem that highlights just how hilariously ridiculous the Village of Primm is.
A unique and over-the-top look at modern motherhood, full of funny and cringeworthy moments.
Kathleen McInerney’s dynamic narration will have listeners either laughing out loud or cringing as she skillfully captures the absurdity and craziness of this dark comedic debut. Stressed out and overwhelmed, Holly Banks is failing at getting her life together after her husband’s job relocates them across the country to the zany village of Primm. With the brisk plot taking place in only a week, McInerney’s pace and lively tones reinforce the constant urgency of trying to be the perfect mom. McInerney easily transitions between characters and never misses a beat as the story unfolds through scenes, emails, texts, and inner monologue. Especially noteworthy is McInerney’s portrayal of Holly’s emotional vulnerability as she prepares both herself and her daughter for kindergarten. E.P. © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine
DECEMBER 2019 - AudioFile