The Paper Wasp

The Paper Wasp

by Lauren Acampora

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Overview

An electrifying debut novel from the acclaimed author of The Wonder Garden , The Paper Wasp is a riveting knife-edge story of two women’s dark friendship of twisted ambition set against the backdrop of contemporary Hollywood

In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden.

When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she is surprised and warmed that Elise still considers her not only a friend but a brilliant storyteller and true artist. Elise’s unexpected faith in Abby reignites in her a dormant hunger, and when Elise offhandedly tells Abby to look her up if she’s ever in LA, Abby soon arrives on her doorstep. There, Abby discovers that although Elise is flourishing professionally, behind her glossy magazine veneer she is lonely and disillusioned. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise’s world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise, the Rhizome, and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends—until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.

The Paper Wasp is a thrilling, unexpected journey into the psyche and imagination of a woman determined to fulfill her destiny from one of our most unique and incisive writers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802129413
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 78,271
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Lauren Acampora is the author of The Wonder Garden, which won the GLCA New Writers Award, and was named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, an Indie Next selection, a New England Book Award finalist, and one of Amazon and NPR’s best books of the year.

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The Paper Wasp 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
lee2staes 3 days ago
The Paper Wasp is an intriguing book! It’s about Abby, her obsession with Elise, her thoughts, and her art. Abby is timid and feels unloved. Elise is a famous actress. Abby and Elise hook up again at a high school reunion. This is when Elise’s strange obsession begins. I liked this book. It is interesting and fast paced and kind of weird. I’ll be looking for more from this author. I highly recommend this book. My thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Bookwormish-Me 5 days ago
Abby leads a rather boring, midwestern life working as a cashier at a local grocery store. When she finds out that her childhood best friend Elise is coming home for their ten year high school reunion, Abby sees that as her opportunity to come out of the darkness and start a new life. Elise is a big movie star now, appearing on the cover of magazines and in the tabloids. Looking at her high school yearbook, Abby sees that Elise once said, “I hope that we can be close again,” and Abby believes that time is now. The Paper Wasp is an amazing tale of one woman on the edge of sanity. Abby is the girl that was supposed to succeed, but somehow along the way began to lose the fight with reality. She dreams in full color, premonitory dreams that she commits to elaborate drawings. Convinced that these drawings are her ticket to meeting her soulmate, an older film director with whom she is not quite obsessed, Abby makes the journey to Hollywood to find her way to Perren. Acampora so beautifully captures two young women who start out in the same place, but move to such different places. Both have needs that can’t be met by reality. This isn’t a book about mental illness, but more about the paths that can be taken to find your way. It is a story of in some ways redemption for one and a fall from grace for the other. I was spellbound by it. 3.5 stars for an interesting read. This review will be posted at BookwormishMe.com close to publication date.
Donna172 13 days ago
One fact about Paper Wasps is that they will only attack when they feel threatened. Another fact is that they are beneficial to gardeners. Both of these descriptions seem fitting for the main character, Abby. I could not understand the meaning of the title until the end of the book, but now that I have read it, I want to go back again and look again for the similarities. The title selection of this book is genius! Abby is a young, lonely, almost recluse who is obsessed with the life of her high school friend, Elise. When their high school reunion arrives, Abby almost reluctantly attends. The only reason she is there is to see if she can get a glimpse of Elise. As luck would have it, not only does she get to see Elise, she get invited to visit her in her in her glamorous Hollywood world. Although neither of the characters in this book are likable, I was drawn to them and wanted to know the workings of their inner mind. Elise is a member of the Rhizome which seems to be an almost spa-like setting. The members attend and learn how to become one with their dreams (or that is what it seemed like to me). This setting honestly confused me because I don't know if a place like this really exists, or maybe I am just that out of touch. Abby was gifted in her ability to connect to her own mind and to others minds through her dreams. At times, I wondered if Abby were mentally unstable or if maybe she was just truly gifted. Just like the paper wasp, when Abby's world feels threatened, she takes action. This book is like no other book I have ever read. It was fantastical in a way that was realistic and has me wondering; do things like this really happen, are people like Abby real? Thank you to Grove Press and Bookish First for the ARC! #GrovePress #BookishFirst
LeslieLindsay 14 days ago
A stunning foray into the brilliant unconscious of one very creative, yet disturbed woman, THE PAPER WASP is about friendship, but equally about art and dreams In 2015, I tore through Lauren Acampora's debut, THE WONDER GARDEN, a collection of linked short stories which dazzled and intrigued--and yes, unsettled me. I was thrilled to come across her newest book, THE PAPER WASP (June 11, Grove Atlantic), which is her first novel. Abby Graven is twenty-eight. She lives at home with her mother and father (and maybe older sister, who seems to have some concerns with the law). Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes at her job at a discount store in Michigan. Each day she is taunted by her best friend from school, who made it big as a Hollywood actress. Elise is gorgeous and talented, having escaped the pedantic life of Michigan, she's the awe of all in her hometown. Abby painstakingly purchases every magazine Elise is featured and constructs collages of her. And then Elise returns for a high school reunion. This brief encounter stirs up old feelings in Abby and she decides its time to make a change. She is stunned and warmed Elise still remembers her and so Abby offhandedly makes her way to L.A., where she insinuates herself into Elise's life. But there, in L.A., Abby is disillusioned. Elise is floundering professionally. And yet she stays on as Elise's personal assistant, becoming truly enmeshed in her life. There are dark secrets of ambition, a desire for greatness, and dynamic shifts of creativity. Mining the subconscious, Acampora pulls from Abby's dreamworld a series of vivid descriptions bordering on the surreal. This is what I love. There's a poetry to this unexpected imagination, an unexpected characterization brimming with subliminal darkness, a thick layer of ominous. Acampora makes me think, makes me question reality, and gives me new facts--through this fictional world--to consider. I still think THE WONDER GARDEN is my favorite, but there is so much to THE PAPER WASP, so much vision and ambition, I can't help but be in total awe. I will gladly read anything by Lauren Acampora. There are some similarities to Acampora's earlier work, but THE PAPER WASP is different. It reminds me a bit of PLATINUM DOLL (Anne Girand) about the life of Jean Harlow meets the work of Erika Swyler, and even a dark touch of Gillian Flynn. L.Lindsay|Always with a Book
SheTreadsSoftly 14 days ago
The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora is a highly recommended, dark, twisted tale of a friendship between two women. Abby Graven is stuck at her parent's house in Michigan working as a cashier in a supermarket. She obsessively creates detailed drawings of visions from her dreams that are often premonitory, and she follows the films of director, Auguste Perren. She also obsessively follows the acting career of her former best friend, Elise Van Dijk. When Abby and Elise reconnect at their ten-year high school reunion, a drunken Elise gives Abby her private number. Later Abby shows up in Hollywood and calls Elise. This results in a renewal of their friendship as Elise confesses she has no real friends and she invites Abby to stay with her. Abby becomes a pillar of support, a confidante, and a personal assistant to Elise. Abby watches as Elise drinks too much, dates an arrogant, narcissistic man, and doubts her abilities while resenting the other egotistical actresses around her, but she also claims to be an artist, which embitters Abby. This novel shows the weird, dark side of Los Angeles and Hollywood. It also brings Abby closer to her idle, Auguste Perren, and his Rhizome retreat/compound, which teaches actors to use their dreams. Elise attends as if it is nothing, but Abby has obsessed with being there for years and religiously follows and practices Perren's dream-imaging techniques. At the same time Abby is still having her dream/visions and drawing them. As would be expected, this reconnection is not going to result in anything good. Told in the second person, this is a disquieting, twisted, ominous novel that is the story of an uneven friendship, obsessions, a confession of hidden secrets, and a dairy of stealthy plans. Even when you know it is going to take a foreboding turn, it still will hold your attention, and the turn it does take is simultaneously unexpected and obvious. The writing is excellent, even while it is taking bizarre turns, and you will find yourself compulsively reading just one more chapter. The ending is frightening and ominous, but Abby can explain and justify every turn she takes, as if it were all predetermined - which it has been through her dream visions. If it sounds like this is a rather odd visionary tale, it is. It is akin to a diary written to your obsessions. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grove/Atlantic.
Shelley-S-Reviewer 15 days ago
3.5 Stars This story is told from the singular point of view, of our main character, Abby. Taken at face value, it is a lovely and heartbreaking reflection on childhood friendship, and on how living life changes everything. Readers who look for no more than that will be carried along by the unfolding of the story, which moves forward though events that are unforeseen and yet emotionally inevitable. The book is wholly satisfying on that level. But for those who want more, it also has themes that are completely contemporary. Lauren Acampora's prose is a wonder. The book takes risks and pulls them off. Is it literary fiction? Mainstream? One of those "Women's novels?" I don't know and don't much care, I just know I really liked it. Those who are looking for chick lit are likely to to find themselves with more than they expected. The novel doesn't tell you how to feel about the characters and their actions, because they are real characters, and, like real people, some of the things they think, do, say and the way the author presents it, can make us feel unsure and uncomfortable. Getting more than you expected is one of fiction's enjoyments. This novel delivers it.
Maryvero 15 days ago
Abby is at her 10th year school reunion when she runs into Elise, her childhood best friend, that now is an acclaimed Hollywood star. Abby is 28, works a simple 9 to 5 life working at a grocery store, in contrast with her friend Elise that went off to a stellar career. However, nothing is as it seems. Elise seems to miss her normal life, and during the reunion invites Abby to visit her. Abby does not hesitate, and from there it starts a plot of manipulation and control. Who knows what actually drives Abby into all of this: jealousy? envy? need for attention? related mental illnesses? All starts out in what is seems an innocent - almost understandable - obsession that Abby has for her former friend. However, when Abby goes to LA to become Elise's friend again, and slowly takes control over Elise's life. Do not miss it!
Dalai-Momma-Drama 15 days ago
Abby had a dear friend as a child. Elise. Budding relationship. Innocent and pure. They part ways.....10 years on, that friendship reunites. Their lives went in very different courses and now here they are together again. Seems sweet until things fester....and suddenly the story takes on a very dark and twisted demise. Beautiful writing style lends for the eerie fascination of wanting to dive deeper into this tale. The characters are engrossing, the plot is perplexing, the atmosphere is tantalizing. I was unsettled and heartbroken at the end of it all. A must read. Highly recommend. Thanks to the author Lauren Acampora and to Grove Atlantic Publishers for my free copy of this book won via giveaway. I received. I read. I reviewed this book honestly and voluntarily.
ReadbyRed 15 days ago
The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora is not at all what I expected, based on the description, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Paper Wasp is Abby’s story, told by Abby herself. Acampora uses first person narration, at times having a stream of consciousness vibe, to tell of Abby’s highs and lows as she strives to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. She also introduces the reader to Elise, her friend and ticket out of Michigan. As both are focused on their respective, but different, career paths, it seems inevitable their paths will cross, but to what end? This was a fun book to explore. I could really immerse myself in the story and the character of Abby, thanks to the first-person narration. At the same time, it made me wonder what REALLY happened during the story’s timeline, especially as I learned more about Abby and was witness to some of her later decisions. If you want a good page-turner that dives into the mind of someone both motivated but twisted, a book with some unseen twists and turns, I highly recommend The Paper Wasp. I received a copy of The Paper Wasp from BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.
JMBS1212 15 days ago
What did I just read? HA! What a deliciously disturbing read! The MC, Abby, is recovering from a breakdown and working at the local grocery store when she decided to attend her high school reunion. There she reunites with her high school bestie who she has an unhealthy attachment, it doesn’t help that Elise has become quite successful. Next is the sad, confusing, scary trip we take of the MC trying to “get that connection back” that she felt in high school with her best friend. This is disturbing to me in certain ways because yes she “reads” a lot into actions that Elise that may or may not be intended. The ending was “meh” with some unbelievable plot points and it felt a little rushed but I would give this a solid three stars just for the idea and demented-ness of the story.
BookFreakOut 15 days ago
I imagine this will be a "love it or hate it" book, and I loved it. What starts out as a relatively minor obsession with a former-friend-turned-Hollywood-star (keeping magazine clippings while living halfway across the country isn't particularly noteworthy) quickly turns into something stranger, more possessive, more bizarre once Abby shows up in LA unannounced and becomes part of Elise's life again. There's a slow slide from excitement and eager friendship, to subtle manipulation and possessiveness, to a sense of supreme arrogance and condescension as Abby's proclaimed devotion to the craft of storytelling gives her a sense that she is more deserving of the industry's attention than Elise. The inside look at Abby's mind is unnerving and fascinating, a glimpse at what's almost megalomania and sheer entitlement that seems the most natural thing in the world for Abby. Will the mask come off? Will there be any consequences? This book had me dumbstruck and spellbound up to the last page.
Jodi Wiggins 15 days ago
Note: BookishFirst.com provided me with an advance copy of The Paper Moth in exchange for a fair and honest review. The Paper Moth begins with the narrator and protagonist Abby leading, if you can call it that, a miserable life in small-town Michigan. At 27, she lives with her parents and works in a grocery store. She is a brilliant artist. However, college didn’t work out for her, and now she prefers to remain anonymous, even shunning going online. Her childhood best friend, Elise, is far from anonymous. She has become an actress with a promising career. Abby obsessively studies Elise’s beautiful face in magazines and reads about her life and work in the interviews. As girls, they dreamed and created stories together, as Elise acted out Abby’s endless ideas. Abby is given to premonitions in dreams, and one of them comes true for her during her 10-year high school class reunion. Of course Elise comes, and the local girl made good attracts much excitement. Elise off-handedly tells Abby to look her up if she comes to Los Angeles. It takes Elise by surprise when Abby does just that within a few months. Elise generously lets Abby stay in her home, then hires her as an assistant and lets her into her world. Abby reminds Elise of her simpler, more innocent pre-acting life, and she believes that Abby is more trustworthy than the superficial people she’s met in Los Angeles. It becomes obvious to the reader, if not Elise, that Abby is not simple, innocent, or trustworthy. Elise understands that Abby wants to leave Michigan and go into filmmaking. Abby, however, wants more. Much more. Abby doesn’t just want to be in Elise’s world—she wants to be Elise’s world again. Lauren Acampora makes the interesting decision to have Abby narrate in the seldom-used second person. The “you”, of course, is Elise. This reveals that whatever happens, Elise is still extremely important, in some way, to Abby. As she tells her story, Abby reveals more about her own decisions between what she considered their idyllic girlhood and the present day. Much like Abby’s dreams and the films of the director she and Elise both admire, the story becomes dark and strange. Not everyone will like this novel. It leaves “chick lit” territory quickly, and Abby is not a character who will inspire cheering. However, it is a fascinating story of mental illness, friendship, obsession, ambition, and creativity.
Angie0184 15 days ago
If you like literary fiction and desperately flawed, manipulative and damaged characters, this is the book for you. Abby has been living a 9 to 5 life working at a local grocery while her best childhood friend went off to Hollywood as a child actor. They reunite in a booze fueled frenzy during a high school reunion and a half hearted invitation to come visit is exchanged. I suspect Abby suffers from some serious impulsivity issues and possible some other undiagnosed mental illnesses. This deranged woman begins a marionette dance from there with her best friend, seemingly pulling invisible strings and dancing in and out of shadows, making things happen exactly as she needs them to. It's a dark look at mental health and substance abuse, codependency, and manipulation, as well as a deep dive into the development of a main character. It was a dark read, but a good one.
Momof2kids 15 days ago
I wish there was the option for half stars because this was a three and a half for me. I like the way the book was written as if Abby was telling the story to Elise. I’m fact it almost seem like a letter to Elise explaining everything that happened, and why. To me, Abby did not have a firm grip on reality. I didn’t really understand the whole Perran/Rhizome part of the book or really understand much of what it had to do with the story except to prove to Abby that there was something she was better than Elise at. I do find interesting that there is a quote from Emily Bronte in the beginning of the book that basically sums up Abby for the entire books “I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas, they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here”
LisaB95 15 days ago
I hate to write less than three stars reviews, but I just couldn’t get into this. For some reason, when getting the first look, I thought I would like it. It sounded interesting. But the main character was so immature sounding. At the beginning, I kept thinking she had some kind of lesbian relationship or crush on the friend, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But she was so immature about it. On and on. The whole thing is just gibberish. I didn’t even finish it. The character is just creepy and mental. I can understand how she could get so obsessed since her life has been sheltered and drab but still. I’m sure a lot of people will like the book. But it did nothing for me. I wish the author all the luck with it and hope it is a big hit.
conni7 15 days ago
Huh. This book is so unlike anything I have read before, I honestly can’t even begin to describe it. The story is solely told in the first person viewpoint of the main character, Abby. Most of it comes across as a stream of consciousness of her personal dreams, thoughts, feelings, experiences and opinions of her life and that of her best friend, Elise, who she seems to be more than a little obsessed with. She considers her dreams, art, opinions and experiences in something like meditation to be of the upmost importance. At times, she appears to be a bit manic-depressive because of days spent alone, huddled in her room and then the opposite, extreme bursts of energy. There is an occasional foray into sex and thoughts of sex with the characters in this book. I don’t know how to rate this one. The author did an excellent job of writing this book, and while I found it somewhat interesting, this isn’t the kind of book I’d enjoy reading more than one of. So maybe 3 stars.
sweetbabyjane 16 days ago
Thanks to Bookishfirst.com and Grove Press for this book. My opinions are my own. I didn't realize this was a sort of Young Adult book or chick lit I guess you can also call it since Elise and Abby meet once again at their 10 year high school reunion which would make them 28 years old. Abby seemed to be the outcast in high school, overweight and shy and into her artistry and Elise seems to be the outgoing one always wanting to become an actress. Abby and Elise were once very close friends, almost sisters you can call it growing up in Michigan and then Elise goes to California, to be an actress while Abby still lives in Michigan working in a supermarket. Abby decides to go to their high school reunion just to see Elise once again. Abby just decides to drop in Elise's life in California after an invitation from Elise. Elise seems surprised at first but ends up making her her personal assistant. It was a very strange book with Abby's dreams. I'm not going to spoil it but the book turned out very bizarre. A hard book to review.