cover image Smile and Look Pretty

Smile and Look Pretty

Amanda Pellegrino. Park Row, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7783-1112-6

Pellegrino shines in this intelligent and engaging debut about four friends who work as assistants in various high-profile industries, written in the tell-all tone of The Devil Wears Prada with a conceit reminiscent of Gossip Girl. Olivia Medina aspires to be an actor; Cate Britt a book editor; Lauren Barreo a screenwriter, and Max Burke a broadcast journalist. Their most exciting tasks, however, involve picking up vegan cupcakes and coffee orders, with a generous dollop of condescension. The four meet weekly for margaritas and to vent about the outrageous shenanigans of their famous bosses. Soon, they decide to launch an anonymous blog called Twentysomething, which chronicles their bosses and others’ bad behavior—and ends up attracting a large audience of women dealing with similar situations, and who begin to call out abusive behavior. Veterans of so-called glamour industries will recognize Pellegrino’s depiction of the often-toxic workplaces, and the author does a good job portraying her large cast, among them Lauren’s colleague-turned-boyfriend Owen, who admirably fights for her honor (even with a wimpy writer’s punch). It’s a simple, well-worn story, but it stands out thanks to the ways the characters balance their personal ambitions with a desire for justice. Agent: Liz Parker, Verve Talent and Literary. (Dec.)