Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Review: "Limelight" by Amy Poeppel

If you're looking for an enjoyable read with a lot of heart, Amy Poeppel's Limelight may be the book for you.

Allison Brinkley has her hands full. She's been the most vocal proponent of moving her family from their suburban Dallas home to the wilds of New York City when her husband is offered a new position within his company.

She can't wait to live in a brownstone, enjoy the beauty of Central Park, and spend time with one of her best friends, who has been trying to get her to come to New York for years. She already has a teaching job lined up, too, so she's completely set.

But then reality sets in. She discovers they can't afford a brownstone (more like an apartment in a high-rise building), her friend is escaping to the New Jersey suburbs, and her job has fallen through. All that, and her older daughter is barely speaking to her, her younger daughter is doing poorly in school, and she's already been called into school by her son's principal because of inappropriate behavior. Was moving the right decision?

Ever the optimist, Allison still tries to rally her family—not to mention herself—around the excitement of New York. But when another career opportunity falls through, she starts to despair. Then opportunity comes her way in the most inauspicious of circumstances, when she has a fender-bender with a BMW in front of her son's school—while the "popular mom crowd" watches.

Her accident leads her to a luxury penthouse on Central Park West, where she encounters a foul-mouthed, hungover, spoiled teenager—who happens to be Carter Reid, a famous pop singer and teen heartthrob who seems to be taking a turn down the path of rebellion, spewing curses (and vomit), throwing punches, and causing trouble wherever he goes.

Carter is in New York City, abandoned by those who were working for him, in order to star in Limelight, a Broadway musical adaptation of the famous Charlie Chaplin film. The thing is, though, Carter doesn't want to do the musical and wants to fly home to Los Angeles. He doesn't care that he signed a contract, or what the implications are for his career or his fortune.

Amidst the wreck that Carter is making of his life and his career, Allison finds an opportunity to regain her self-worth, find a purpose, and perhaps finally fall in love with the city that never sleeps—plus she might even get her kids to talk to her again. But it's going to require a lot of patience, marshaling her teaching skills, and buying a lot of cell phones!

This was a really fun read. Even if the story is utterly improbable, it charms you from start to finish. It's a bit of a love note to New York City, a paean of sorts to the power of positive thinking and encouragement, and a look at how if you take the bull by the horns, you can achieve success in the strangest of ways.

I enjoyed Poeppel's last book, Small Admissions (see my review), and I felt the same way about this book as well. Allison is a sweet yet persistent character who is determined not to give up, and although many of the other characters have their faults, I still found myself utterly engaged by the story. (It's probably about 50-75 pages longer than it needs to be, though—Carter's shtick grew thin fairly quickly.)

Poeppel threw in lots of nuggets about Broadway, celebrity gossip, and New York City living along with the plot. This is definitely one of those books that are perfect to relax with on a rainy day, and enjoy the lighthearted story. I'll definitely read whatever Poeppel writes next—and I'm even thinking about checking out the Charlie Chaplin movie, too!

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