Saturday, July 26, 2008

Review: This Year's Model

Summary: Supermodel Carol Alt takes us on a wild ride through the glamorous, cutthroat world of fashion and fame—in a biting, witty, and absolutely authentic novel that rocks the world of high-end modeling!

Tall, beautiful, practical Melody Ann Croft of Morristown, New Jersey, is busting her behind as a waitress and wishing there was an easier way to earn money for college. When a customer claiming to be a fashion photographer insists she could become a model, Melody is skeptical—and totally shocked when dropping his name actually opens agency doors. Signed up before her head has even stopped spinning, she's got a new name—Mac—and is off to her first shoot. Could this be that "easier way" at last?

But in modeling, nothing's easy. Mac faces demanding diva photographers with their body-torturing, day-long sessions, and jealous rivals whose flawless beauty hides sharp claws. There are rumors and lies, lecherous model-collecting playboys, rock stars and drugs, and the most perilous pitfall of them all . . .straight male models! Temptation is everywhere, and even a level-headed Jersey girl may have trouble keeping her footing on the long, hard climb up. -- Avon A

Last month, Harper Collins had some interesting books that were being offered by their First Look program. I signed up for a few (as I usually do), and I was fortunately picked to read and review THIS YEAR'S MODEL by Carol Alt. For some reason, I was very curious to read this book about a about an up-and-coming model. I was also very curious to read a book written by Carol Alt. Yes, that Carol Alt -- the supermodel who has graced over 700 magazine covers!

This is probably going to sound a little stereotypical, but I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this novel. I figured it would probably be a light read with lots of fluff. I'm glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this novel! The book was a light read (perfect for the beach or pool), but there was actually some substance to the characters and the story. I really liked Mac, the main character in this novel; and I enjoyed seeing her learn the ropes (both in the modeling industry and with her new model "friends.")

The story was told through the eyes of Mac, an 18 year old girl who is "discovered" right before she's supposed to begin studying pre-med at Penn. She heads to New York to try out modeling (and make a few bucks to help pay for college) and finds that she's one of the new, hot models of the year -- she ends up being in demand by some of the biggest fashion designers as well as major magazines. Mac is then faced with lots of tough decisions. Since the story was told in first person narrative by Mac, the reader was privy to all of Mac's thoughts as well as her insecurities. I felt as if I were learning about the modeling industry right along with Mac.

My favorite part of the story was the friendship between Mac and Jade. Jade was the only person who extended herself to Mac when Mac first started modeling. She acted as Mac's mentor and helped her learn about what it takes to be a success. The reader senses that there is a little more to Jade than meets the eye, but Mac, being the naive newbie, takes a little longer to figure things out. It takes a major betrayal before Mac realizes that their friendship isn't as strong as she had hoped. Friendships between girls can always prove to be interesting (and a little catty); but when they are competing for jobs (and men), it reaches a whole new level. It isn't until a tragic event occurs that the girls realize the importance of their friendship.

While parts of this book definitely showed the glamorous side of modeling and fashion, I was probably more interested in the cut-throat aspect. I loved reading about the beautiful clothes that the models wore, and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the cities and the fashion shows. However, the parts of the novel about the drugs, parties and the bitterness between the models made the book much more juicy! I have a feeling that these stories were very real (and terribly unfortunate.)

I'm guessing that a little of this novel was based on Ms. Alt's life. Similar to the main character of THIS YEAR'S MODEL, Ms. Alt was also discovered while working as a waitress in a restaurant. Beyond that, I'm not sure how much is autobiographical; however, this book definitely read as if it were written by an industry insider. I realize that I only had a very brief glimpse into the modeling world, but I have to admit that I found it very interesting!

Since this book is published by Avon A, an imprint of Harper Collins, there is an A+ Author Insights, Extra, & More section at the back of this book. The first part is advice from Carol Alt for young girls who are interested in becoming models -- hint: "go straight to the top." The second part is "The Ten Best Ways to Prepare for Your Meeting with a Modeling Agent;" and the last part is a Q&A with Carol Alt. I always enjoy the A+ sections and find that they provde additional insight into the novels.

I suggest taking a look at THIS YEAR'S MODEL, especially if you are interested in the modeling/fashion industry or if you are looking for a good vacation book. I'm not going to go so far as to say that it would be a good read for your book club or that it would generate a lot of discussion; but it is a fun, light book that will provide a few hours of entertainment. THIS YEAR'S MODEL will be available on August 26th.


Cheryl said...

Hum it does sound interesting

Anonymous said...

I apply for those every month and get rejected. Any tips? :) Tracy I like your review, I wouldn't have expected much from a supermodel writing a book either.