Smothered: A Novel

Smothered: A Novel

by Autumn Chiklis

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A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the "real world" means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis' real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she's ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250150509
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 343,048
File size: 21 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

AUTUMN CHIKLIS is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California, where she studied theater and screenwriting. She’s an actor (The Shield), stand-up comedian, and contributor to The Huffington Post. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
AUTUMN CHIKLIS is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California, where she studied theater and screenwriting. She’s an actor (The Shield), stand-up comedian, and contributor to The Huffington Post. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where she lives with her mother, father, and two pugs.

Read an Excerpt


MAY 12 10:30 P.M.

Two traits I've inherited from Mother that invalidate any "secret adoption" claims I may have made in the past:

1. My horrible fear of public speaking and

2. Her original nose.

Neither were easy growing up with, mind you ... but at least the former was avoidable, since it wasn't the focal point of my face. I hate, hate, HATE public speaking. Ever since my then-crush Ezra Steinbeck walked out on my bat mitzvah speech to smoke weed in the back parking lot, talking to crowds has made me nauseous. The only reason I agreed to give this stupid salutatorian speech at all is because representing your class is "such an honor" ... even though technically the speaker should have been my roommate, Natasha. She's the one with the second-highest GPA. But naturally she turned down the invitation, since she's protesting the graduation ceremony's wasteful use of printed programs by refusing to accept her diploma in person.

... And also by handcuffing herself to the administration building.

This is probably for the best, however, since her version of a graduation speech would have likely been some sort of beat poem with bongos and a steel drum. Disastrous.

But I digress from my total agony, which has taken place in three stages. Stage one of my descent into postgraduate madness (officially coining as an academic term: PGM) began yesterday, as I started packing up my dorm room. Call me crazy, but somehow reducing my entire life to a small stack of isolated boxes in less than twenty-four hours made my whole existence feel dreadfully insignificant. All my textbooks, all my records, all my minimalist movie posters: tightly and precisely smashed into 18 × 16 cubes of cardboard to be flown cross-country, where they'll soon reside in my childhood bedroom ... exactly twenty-one steps down the hall from my mother's room.

Oh dear god, my MOTHER. Somehow, against all physical odds, Mom managed to overpack her luggage by twenty pounds for a two-day trip to New York. TWENTY. That's ten pounds extra per day. It's remarkable. Though I'll never understand what compels her to pack like a nomadic Grace Kelly, even THAT nonsense feels only moderately absurd in comparison to Dad and his rental car. He insisted on renting a minivan for the weekend because Mom refuses to take the subway. Logically, I suggested an Uber or a cab, but apparently he read somewhere that it's cheaper to just rent a car and pay up-front. This is definitely not true and I suspect he's making it up, but Dad hates relinquishing the wheel to anyone, and anyway, his Uber account is still suspended for aggressive backseat driving.

Stage two of my catastrophic PGM spiral took place tonight at the Plaza. Despite living in Los Angeles, the Hansens have been regular Plaza patrons for more than twenty-five years, making us C-list celebrities among the staff. In fact, the Plaza is the only place where people still call me Eloise, which would be fine if it weren't a painful reminder of my somewhat legendary conception.

My walking pace was quicker today than usual (probably due to excess energy manifested from anxiety), so I arrived at the hotel fifteen minutes early, instead of my usual ten. I decided against going inside and facing the front desk ("*GASP!* Is that Eloise Laurent?? MY GOODNESS, have you grown up! What's the plan, college grad? We all expect BIG THINGS from you, young lady!!"), so I waited on the famous velvet steps facing Fifth Avenue in the muggy East Coast heat, contemplating how many passing New Yorkers were survivors of PGM or similar disorders. Half an hour later, Dad's bright-red pearl-coated minivan screeched up to the valet, Mom's bulging designer suitcase strapped to the top like a Christmas tree. Three attendants immediately descended on the vehicle, as though it belonged to the Kennedys or Windsors or Baldwins instead of just the Hansens.

Before the car stopped moving, Val slid the door open, leapt out of the backseat, and ran up the steps, looking like a goddamn siren. Maybe it's because she's missing a few days of high school to be here, but my sister was positively glowing: her bronze hair in climate-defying, frizz-free beach waves, skin golden as the hotel's awning, arms lean from hours in the selfie position. I threw my own less-defined arms around her while she gushed non sequiturs: "Oh my god, the flight was crazy. I can't believe it, you're so old!!!"

Behind her, Dad was helping the three bellmen unhook the sofa-sized suitcase from the hood of the van, shouting orders like the captain of a sinking ship. Val kept gabbing until we both saw a single Manolo Blahnik appear in the passenger doorway, followed by a freshly manicured hand and bejeweled wrist. I instinctively adjusted my oversize T-shirt as an attendant received the free hand and pulled forth Mama Shell: all five foot five inches of fabulous.

Mom was thinner than usual (how, HOW is this possible??), in a navy Gucci blazer with white trim, over a silk camisole and light-wash jeans. Her reddish-brown Dior sunglasses covered her narrow face, her Prada purse dangled from a bent arm, and her gloss-covered lips pouted into a smile. I suddenly regretted my choice of ripped jeans, awkwardly crossing one leg over the other to hide the overtorn hole at my knee.

Before I could lift a hand to wave, Mom was up the stairs and on me (impressive, considering her stilettos), kissing my head, fixing my hair, subtly checking out my outfit. From the second she left the car in her devastatingly perfect ensemble, Mom was talking, and she did not stop talking until we were all seated for dinner an hour later.

"... Okay, so I have our whole postgrad life planned out. I'm thinking yoga, hiking, and cycling classes. Once-a-week facials and mani-pedis ... maybe a biweekly massage? Oh! Monday nights are still Bachelorette viewing parties with the Red Hot Ladies, of course. This season's so intense, you're going to die. Oh, excuse me, Jonathan? Yes, Jonathan, I'll have a Shell-tini,*please ... bring four. Yes, of course she's of age, she just left her ID in the car. Thank you! Where was I? Oh! Lulu, we play mah-jongg once a month now at Susan's. You'll love it, because it's a game of strategy. Oh my gosh! Wait 'til you see the pugs! Muffin's gotten so big, he's twice Baguette's size. I don't mind, though — pugs can pull off a bit of chub. Oh, and I just bought them the most adorable collars ... they're so chic!"

Jonathan handed me a Shell-tini and I instantly started chugging. Bless the sacred mix of cucumber and gin. I ordered a second. And a third. Because somewhere around the talk of chic dog collars, I was overcome by the third and final stage of my PGM, rendering me virtually mute for the rest of the evening. Whatever else Mom said at dinner was completely drowned out by my existential inner monologue:

It's happening. Tomorrow. No more classes. No more papers. No more freshly printed textbook smell. OH GOD. I no longer get student-discount tickets at theaters or museums. As of tomorrow, I stop getting aggravating emails from random university organizations that I have no interest in joining.

Tomorrow, I am receiving a summa cum laude degree from one of the most venerated and esteemed academic establishments on the planet ... and I am both job- and apartment-less.

After my fourth Shell-tini, I finally kissed my family good night, pledging to text Mom when I got home, and began stumbling uptown. I found my way to the subway, then quickly stopped by the Columbia administration building to give a protesting Natasha my leftover veggies before heading to my dorm. (You know, for someone who'd been handcuffed to a doorknob for three days straight, she seemed far more relaxed than I am.)

Shoot. I'm still a bit buzzed from the Shell-tinis. I need water stat, or I risk delivering a dehydrated graduation speech tomorrow, and the last thing I need is dry mouth. Ugh. All right, all right, focus! What else do I have left to accomplish? My boxes are packed. Speech is printed out. Cap and gown are pressed and ironed ... everything seems to be in order, except for me.

Okay, Lou Hansen: you've got this. You are a warrior. You are a champion. You are an intellectual and academic badass. The next time you write in this journal, you will have gone from an exemplary undergraduate student to an overqualified bum.

... On second thought: bottoms up.

* * *


Short Term

Establish new living-at-home rules/expectations with parents.

Rid closet of all unnecessary and unprofessional outfits.

Email Professor Richmanson about job opportunity!!

Buy more ink for label maker.

Start waking up at 7:30 A.M.

Tell Mom about Theo.

Medium Term

Move out of parents' house within 9 months.

Secure a job in a field that I can commit to for the rest of my life.

Learn how to cook something that isn't cereal.

Lose 5 to 7 pounds.

Find a one-bedroom apartment that's reasonably priced.

^That Mother will approve of.

Long Term

Forbes 30 Under 30 article (could actually be considered medium-term ... feeling very, very old).

Modern-style house in Pacific Palisades

My very own NPR segment (nonnegotiable).

Have kids: one boy, one girl.


MAY 13

10:40A.M. — MISSED CALLS: (5) Mama Shell

It's a good thing I'm leaving the state tomorrow, because showing my face here is no longer an option.

I spent the first half hour of the ceremony just trying not to vomit from anxiety/the tiniest of Shell-tini hangovers. Strongly considered running offstage and deferring my degree. Honestly, who wants to take advice from a person who spent half an hour last night in the fetal position, drunkenly weeping beside a stack of overstuffed boxes with her face smashed into the filthy dorm-room carpet?

All of that said, my sacrifice was not in vain, since I somehow managed to make it through my speech without tripping on the way to the podium and/or passing out. I remember almost none of it, since I was mostly focused on keeping my voice at a human-sounding pitch, but from what I've been able to piece together through Snapchat, it looks like I did a fine job!

It wasn't until after the ceremony, however, that things took a turn for the absolutely miserable.

I now understand why Mom packed a sixty-pound suitcase: the shoes alone must have weighed ten. She was dressed in all white, with the exception of a summer scarf that was thirty different shades of pink, and a series of jangly bracelets made of various metals and stones. It looked like someone had spray-painted two bricks silver and strapped them to her feet with Grecian silk, and her floppy sun hat was on par with the best of the Kentucky Derby.

She looked fantastic. People were staring. It was horrifying.

The minute I walked offstage, Mom ripped the rhinestone-covered sunglasses from her face and all but threw her silver clutch at Val, who was taking selfies with a copy of the program. (Natasha would be outraged on my behalf.)

"MY BABYYYYYY!!!" she bellowed, tiny arms outstretched as she strutted toward me, her silver brick-shoes flattening the grass beneath her. "You ... were ... absolutely AMAAAAZING!!!" As she pulled me in for a hug, I could feel her adjusting my hair.

"I am completely OBSESSED with your speech! You are so brilliant. I just loved every second of it."

Dad and Val followed suit with the hugging, praising my poise and grace and good posture and other things I'm positive I don't have. They were in such high spirits I actually considered bringing up my still secret boyfriend ... until Mom waved over a discount Ralph Lauren model from this season's commencement catalog.

"Lulu, this is Travis. I sat next to his mother during the ceremony ... she is such a doll. Anyway, he was the captain of the rowing team, and he says you've never met!"

I gaped at her, dumbfounded, before looking up at Travis. He was watching me expectantly, a self-assured grin on his stupid smug preppy athlete face. I bet he was wearing khakis under that robe. Ugh. I opened my mouth to say something, but all that came out was a sort of choking noise and probably a bit of spit.

The two of them laughed, as though this were so typical Lulu, and Travis whipped out his phone to "hit me up on Facebook."

A moment later he popped up as "Travis Winston Yates Jr." Ew.

Anyway, we're finally back at the hotel, and our luggage is all packed up. Mom is at the sauna, "sweating out her martini bloat," so I have a few minutes to think. Our flight tomorrow leaves at eight A.M., so we ABSOLUTELY MUST check out of the hotel and be in the car by five. Alberto* has arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport, and the pugs are being dropped off at noon. As long as everything goes according to plan, we should be all set!

* * *

Rules and Expectations for Parents now that I am moving back home as a fully realized and capable adult:

Where I go, who I see, and why I am seeing them are no longer subject to inquisition-style examination. No judgey comments or faces will be tolerated.

I, and I alone, choose what I wear in the morning. Suggestions are fine, but nothing more.

Comments about the state of my hair, skin, nails, eyebrows, armpits, posture, upper lip, jawline, toe hair, breast placement, and bikini region should be kept to a maximum of three per day. TOTAL. This is nonnegotiable.

Mom has to delete the Find-My-Friends app from her phone.

And finally: If at any point I decide to bring a male home — if being the operative word — the family will do their best to trust my instincts, be kind, and not make any comments about his buckteeth and/or skinny legs.

MAY 14 10:25A.M.

So we missed our flight this morning.

Mom's Cartier bracelet kept setting off the metal detector, which would usually just result in a pat-down, but Mom got so nervous that she started giggling uncontrollably ... so much so that it was deemed "unusual and suspicious behavior" by security. This would have also been fine, if Dad hadn't started yelling at the TSA officer about the absurdity of detaining a woman on the grounds of hysterical laughter. Though he made a fair point, apparently TSA officers do not like being reprimanded at six thirty in the morning, so we were sent to see the head of security for questioning.

Meanwhile, Dad still thinks that bracelet's a knock-off.

It's all okay now. Thankfully the head of JFK security had better things to do with his time than question an overdressed blond woman about her inappropriate giggling. Plus, I was able to pin Dad's behavior on emotional instability due to his eldest daughter's college graduation. Somehow, I figured "he's just a total loudmouth" wouldn't go over as well.

Unfortunately, there isn't another flight today with four available seats, so we are going to have to split up: Dad and I are taking the first flight, and Mom and Val are going on the second. This is exciting news, seeing as I won't have to deal with Mom's horrific fear of flying. Score.

Added bonus: This gives me an unprecedented six captive hours alone with Dad. This should be the perfect opportunity to discuss graduation and life and my expectations list, but breaching the subject of adulthood with Charlie Hansen is nothing short of terrifying. As the textbook definition of a self-made workaholic,* he's probably not taking my unemployed state particularly well. Hopefully the proximity of 200-plus strangers will keep him from being too harsh.

Well, this is it. In T-minus seven hours, I'll be back in my childhood bedroom. Can't wait!

MAY 15 7:50 A.M.

The one positive effect of jet lag: it helped kick-start my 7:30 wake-up goal! I was out of bed by 6:45, made coffee in the kitchen, and then let the pugs out back for a walk. I've lived in this house for over twenty years, and I'm still overwhelmed by the excess of color every time I step outside. There must be over thirty different beds of flowers of the brightest variety painting the perimeter of our property, which I imagine is single-handedly causing the California drought. As both an environmentalist and a minimalist, I find this completely maddening, but Mom maintains that the flowers are uplifting for our pets (despite the fact that dogs are color-blind). So I watched as Muffin and Baguette ran around the yard, sniffed some of the "uplifting" bushes, then walked inside and peed right on the carpet. So much for "positive potty training."

Dad was in the living room by the time I came back in, drinking coffee and watching the news. It's crazy how much my dad watches the news. Equally impressive is how little my mom retains of it. My parents sit in bed and watch the news every single night, and yet Mom recently asked if the Arab Spring was a salon in Burbank. Clearly, I inherit my intellectual curiosity from his side of the family.


Excerpted from "Smothered"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Autumn Chiklis.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Month One: The Real World,
Month Two: June Gloom,
Month Three: Codependence Day,
Month Four: Endless Summer,
Month Five: Back-to-School Shopping,
Month Six: Falling Back,
Epilogue: Month Twelve: Commencement,
Praise for Smothered,
About the Author,

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Smothered: A Novel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Holly More than 1 year ago
At first, I didn't think I would like this story but as I got more into the book, I found myself really enjoying this read! This has to be one of the most realist books that I have read in long time about what it means to come home from college to an overbearing mother while trying to figure life out. The part I loved the most was how the book was formatted to show all the text messages without it overbearing you with that aspect of the story that needed to be shown while reading the book! I can see why people think that this isn't a real view of what life is really like after college due to Lou complaining all the time while living at home without a job but there is this element with her overbearing mother that totally makes this real and with all the stress that comes with that. This for me was the perfect book to read in between all those thrillers and books laced with heavy topics that made it the perfect read for summer time!! Thank You to Autumn Chiklis for writing your first book with a taste of what life was like for you after college!! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smart, witty and laugh out loud funny, Smothered lampoons a first world millennial college graduate’s conundrums with an open heart and a tongue in cheek. The author clearly knows this world and it’s inhabitants, poking fun at them with a distinct flair and fantastic new literary voice. This is a quick and fun read that made me laugh throughout. Look for this title to be made into a film or tv series in the near future!