Another win for the #allthebookreviews duo!
Thanks to HTP Books for the free ebook copies in exchange for our honest reviews
SMILE AND LOOK PRETTY – Amanda Pellegrino (Released March 8th, 2022)
A juicy, fun yet piercing debut novel, Smile and Look Pretty tells the story of four assistants working in media who band together to take on their toxic office environments in the ultimate comeuppance—pitched as Sweetbitter meets Whisper Network.
Online they’re The Aggressive One, The Bossy One, The Bitchy One, and The Emotional One. In real life, best friends Cate, Lauren, Olivia and Max all have one thing in common—they’re overworked, overtired, and underpaid assistants to some of the most powerful men in the media and entertainment industries. When they secretly start an anonymous blog detailing their experiences, their posts go viral and hundreds of other women come forward with stories of their own. Confronted with the risks of newfound fame and the possibility of their identities being revealed, they have to contend with what happens when you try and change the world.
Gripping, razor-sharp, and scathingly funny, Smile and Look Pretty is a fast-paced millennial rallying cry about the consequences of whistleblowing for an entire generation, and a testament to the strength of female friendship and what can be accomplished when women come together.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars
What’s the worst thing your boss/ex-boss ever done to make you feel like crap? Or that was just totally outside your job description? I once had a lawyer ask me to cut his meat up for him – and that is NOT a euphemism. And that was just a small taste of how entitled he was – I lasted a whole 2 months at that job. You can’t pay me enough to be treated like trash. I’ve gotten a manager fired for sexual harassment, have caught bosses staring at my ass or been handsy. I think probably most, if not every, woman has gone through something like this in their work life at some point… tragically.
SMILE AND LOOK PRETTY brings us four female assistants in their mid-twenties who work their ass off just to get looked over… over and over again. Reading their experiences, some were somewhat shocking but still I could see them happening. No assistant EVER should be put in a position where they can tally how many times they’ve seen their boss’s penis. WHAT. They decide to put out a blog called Twentysomething that allows women who have been treated terribly in their positions to vent and talk about their issues anonymously. And, of course, this goes VIRAL.
As we have seen through the #metoo movement, and possibly through our own experiences, most of the time harassment of this kind can be washed over or there are little to no consequences. But what WOULD happen if so many people just said NO. Demanded the respect they deserved? NOT be scared at how easily replaceable they could be and how there are thousands, if not millions, of people readily available to take their place with a snap of the fingers. The manager I got “fired”, I found out later, was just transferred to a different restaurant. Um, that doesn’t really solve the problem, now does it?
In any case – this book gives us pure millennial anger and power. But let it be known that this doesn’t just happen to the younger women… or to *just* women in general – men and them are also harassed or treated poorly on the daily. I loved this book as it just hit home, unfortunately, in too many ways. Was it a little too neat at the end? For me, yes but fuck it. I would 1000000% watch the adaptation to this and could see Zoe Kravitz, Jennifer Lawrence, Zendaya and Olivia Munn as the leads for some reason.
Loved the friendship between these four women. Remember y’all, there’s not only powers in numbers, there’s power in YOU.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when starting this book but I was pleasantly surprised and found a new author to keep on my radar. SMILE AND LOOK PRETTY is a solid debut for Amanda Pellegrino and revolves around four friends that start a blog venting about their day-to-day lives in their professions but when it gets bigger than they ever imagined possible there comes the obstacle of keeping anonymous for as long as possible!
Cate, Lauren, Olivia, and Max are all assistants for some powerful men in the entertainment industry – which as we can only imagine comes with high stress situations, outrageous demands, and unfortunately some mistreatment in the workplace. Cate is an assistant to the head of a major book publisher, Max is an assistant at a news station and ordered around by the lead anchor, Lauren is an assistant on a show, and Olivia is an actor’s assistant. All of them are subjected to sexual harassment, demeaning comments, being used for personal errands, and all while having their dreams dangled in front of them. The meet for drinks every week to vent to each other about their horrible bosses and that’s when Twentysomething is born – a blog where they can vent about their day-to-day treatment but must use nicknames (due to NDAs) and remain as anonymous as possible. Well, things get complicated when their blog goes viral. Should they remain anonymous or should they go public and face the inevitable?
I loved the writing and thought all the characters were really well-developed. I felt for them all and shared in their frustrations with how they were being treated and I just wanted them to get the revenge they deserved to enjoy. I thought this had a great pacing to it and will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from Pellegrino in the future!