cover image A Model Summer

A Model Summer

Paulina Porizkova, Author . Hyperion $24.95 (324p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0326-6

Set in 1980, this smooth, predictable first novel by model, actress and children's book author Porizkova tells the story of Jirina, who arrives in Paris a beautiful 15-year-old aspiring model. A Swede of Czech background, Jirina escapes teasing classmates when she's discovered and shipped off to a well-known modeling agency. Leaving behind divorced, unsympathetic parents and a beloved little sister, Jirina moves into the apartment of agency head Jean-Claude; his depressed ex-model wife, Marina; their neglected baby daughter; and another Swedish teen model. As household tensions rise, Jirina strikes out on her own, befriending the famous model Evalinda (also from Sweden), a gay makeup artist and a rich, cultured man who worships her—all while nursing a crush on a dashing Australian photographer. Jirina slowly gains confidence; meanwhile, those around her abuse drugs, have abortions, attempt suicide, get gay-bashed and die tragically. Jirina loses her virginity, finds disappointment in love and learns to use sex to forward her career. Her drive is palpable and her voice believable, but Jirina isn't much fun (others, bien sûr , are downright mean), and you can see the plot points coming from way down the runway. Too many loose ends make for an unsatisfying finale. (Apr.)