cover image Semi-Charmed Life

Semi-Charmed Life

Nora Zelevansky. St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-00118-4

In her semicharming debut, freelance journalist Zelevansky navigates the brackish confluence of quirky Upper West Sider Beatrice Bernstein and Veruca Pfeffernoose, her “famous-for-nothing socialite” dorm room neighbor. Hired by Veruca to ghostwrite her blog detailing Veruca’s collegiate goings-on, The Pfeffernoose Chronicles, Beatrice is soon trading stained sweaters for designer duds as she shadows her new subject, whose wiles are potent enough to win over a celebrated artist immediately after barfing on his shoes. Slowly but surely, Beatrice (dubbed Beany Baby by her new posse of Veruca’s friends, whom she calls the Axis of Evil behind their backs) begins to forget her family and friends as she jets to Miami and London on a moment’s notice. But as Bea quickly learns, appearances can be deceiving, and she’s not the only one passing for something she’s not. Zelevansky infuses the superficiality of Veruca’s world with an insider’s knowledge of the socialites and sycophants she’s chronicling, which lends credibility to the story. Despite a bizarre and jarring introduction of magical elements that fail to jive with the Blackberry–and–black truffles materialism of the book, this is an amusing first effort. Agent: Anne Bohner, Pen & Ink Literary. (July)