Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: "Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe" by Jenny Hollowell

Seven years ago, at the age of 22, Birdie Baker left her husband and the small town that she grew up in to pursue her dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. Now her life is at a standstill- she hasn't achieved the level of fame that she had hoped to, she feels guilty about abandoning her husband without warning, and she misses her deeply religious parents. She seems to be on the verge of collapse, but then Lewis walks into her life. Lewis is young, handsome, and wants all of the same things from life that Birdie does. The two are well-matched but equally self-destructive, and when Birdie gets the big break that she so desperately craves she may find out that achieving her dreams wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.

Don't be fooled by the title- this book is melancholic rather than uplifting, but in a surprisingly good way. Despite the fact that my background couldn't be more different than Birdie's, I really felt like I connected to her. Jenny Hollowell has crafted a sad, funny, sympathetic character in Birdie, and when she yearns for success, for something more, I really felt those emotions. Reading this book made me pensive- I thought of everything that I longed to achieve in life but have not yet. I thought about my life so far and how it has veered from the path that I always thought that it would take, but how those detours have been both positive and negative. Birdie represents the unrealized dreams of the masses, those dreams that are hidden underneath suits and ties, diapers and mortgages. When she achieves her goals she comes to realize that sometimes achieving what it is that you wanted so badly isn't all that it was cracked up to be.

Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe was alternately sad, melancholic, and funny, but mostly it was a vessel of truth. Jenny Hollowell writes with sharp wit and clarity and I found her debut novel to be thoroughly readable.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of fiction, especially fiction set in Hollywood
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010

Thank-you to Henry Holt & Company for this review copy


  1. Books set in L.A./Hollywood always grab my attention, and this is no exception! Next time I'm in the mood for a thoughtful/melancholy read (and sometimes we all are!), I'll think about this one!

  2. "Don't be fooled by the title- this book is melancholic rather than uplifting, but in a surprisingly good way." This sounds intriguing!

  3. Great review...sounds like something I would really like...thanks for spotlighting it:)