Oh! You Pretty Things

Oh! You Pretty Things

Shanna Mahin

2015

 "Oh! You Pretty Things" by Shanna Mahin book cover

We are Here:  Done!

Spoilers?     No

Reflections

It would be an understatement to say that this book hooked me at page 2. I made the mistake of starting this book on the second leg of a flight to my family reunion. When I arrived at the gate, I was maybe a third of the way through. It was both a physical and mental struggle to stuff the book back into my carry-on so I could exit the plane and enter the space of Family Time. Once at the rental house, I placed the book carefully on my night-stand and dutifully caught up with my relatives, whom I adore.

…but thanks to this book, bedtime couldn’t come soon enough.

This book is addictive in the best way. Tabloid good, with stratospherically better writing. While I’m not typically a fan of using present-tense in novels, the story drew me in and I quickly overlooked that narrative choice.

Raw and funny, the frantic story follows a woman who has “aged-out” of the barista scene and tries to make it as a celebrity assistant, all while maintaining some relationships and avoiding others. As readers, we follow the main character’s thoughts closely, and are barely a step ahead of her revelations. This keeps us close to her emotionally, and makes for a compelling read.

This book has everything you want in a summer read: a relatable main character who is unabashedly herself, supporting characters easy to root for and/or despise, a love interest who doesn’t take over the story, PLUS, juicy insider knowledge of the foreign-yet-uncomfortably-close world of celebrity assistance-ship in Hollywood…more more MOAR!!!

The book doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a sequel, unfortunately, but luckily for her fans, Mahin’s upcoming projects involve similar themes. Not to mention the same author. What’s not to be good?

Fixations

The relationship between the main character and her roommate/best friend is wonderful and made me envious. Why do so many of my close girlfriends live so far away?

I choose to believe the title is an homage to the David Bowie anthem of the same name. Especially since his next line talks about how they drive people insane. Even if this wasn’t the reference Mahin was going for, it’s all hunky dory.

Why is this book better than people?

For a few hours, I avoided family members I love and do not see very often in order to finish this book. This filial avoidance mirrors one of the book’s main themes, so I felt validated in taking some Me Time to sneak into a quiet corner of the house and mainline the remaining chapters.

Author Sighting!

I was volunteering at LitFest Pasadena this past May and had the pleasure of live-tweeting a panel that Mahin was on about Hollywood writing. She spoke of writing “very close to the bone,” and her writing is stronger for that memoir-adjacent, insistent authenticity. Mahin is not of literary pedigree, and was discouraged from pursuing artistic aspirations when she was younger. And yet, there she was, sticking it to everyone who had ever had the gall to doubt her powers.

Mahin encouraged her fellow writers in the audience, insisting that “there is a thriving literary culture here.” She was kicking ass and taking names in a charming, down-to-earth way that made me want to be her when I grow up. Flash-forward three months, when I read her book and became even more smitten. She’s an inspiring and talented person, and I can’t wait to read the next thing she unleashes on the universe.

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