Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Regulars, by Georgia Clark

Emily Bester Books/Atria Books, ISBN 9781501119613, August 2016

Krista Kumar, Evie Selby, and Willow Hendriksen are best friends, young women living in New York City. Krista's an aspiring actress after dropping out of law school, Willow a photographer who has just had her first gallery show, and Evie  is a writer. Evie anonymously writes the blog, Something Snarky. Her paying job, though, is as a lowly copy editor for a women's magazine called Salty.

Krista is not getting a lot of jobs, not even trivial ones. Willow's gallery show was a failure. Salty publishes mostly the superficial, sexualized, "buy this to be beautiful enough to matter" stories that Evie, an intelligent, aware, passionate feminist, most hates.

And they are all depressingly aware that they don't meet the societal beauty standards pushed in, among all the media outlets, Salty.

One day, Krista meets someone she took a class with, her gives her a little bottle of something called, simply, "Pretty." One drop each will make them beautiful. The effect will only last a week.

Krista unhesitatingly uses it--and discovers that the transformation process is really painful. On the other hand, the results are impressive.

Willow thinks it over for a day, and despite knowing how painful it will be, also uses it.

Evie angrily tells each of them they are succumbing to society's false and destructively sexist standards, and that they don't need Pretty to be worthwhile.

The next day, though, her boss announces that Salty is starting a video series called Extra Salt, that will do exiting and interesting stories for contemporary women. Evie wants the roll of host, and knows that she has no shot at it. She winds up taking the Pretty, and making up a name and a cover story.

Krista gets a role in a movie with an actor she has had a long-distance crush on.

Willow finds out her boyfriend is willing to cheat on her. She also takes heartbreaking, moving pictures of her "Pretty" self.

Evie gets the hosting role, and collides with the reality of trying to bring genuinely interesting and intelligent stories to a video broadcast that's all about the advertising dollars.

They all spend the next several weeks having adventures both romantic and professional. In the process, they learn a lot about themselves, each other, and the world.

The question is, will this make any of them happier or better off? And how long will the supply of Pretty last them?

It's sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and overall interesting. Not great literature, but I really enjoyed it. In a seemingly silly story, there's a lot of serious thought and character development going on here.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book and am reviewing it voluntarily.