Monday, August 12, 2019

Book Review: The Birthday Girl

No weight loss post this week, friends. That isn't to say I didn't exercise because oh I did, but I'll talk about how physically exhausting last week was for me when I talk about our trip on Wednesday, so watch for that. Today though, I have a review for a book that I've seen everywhere. It's all over Instagram and Facebook, I've seen it pop on Twitter, I've seen it on store shelves, it's everywhere. You may know Melissa de la Cruz from her wonderful young adult books but she's coming back to adult fiction in a big way with this one.

The Birthday Girl - Melissa de la Cruz

Ellie de Florent-Stinson is celebrating her fortieth birthday with a grand celebration in her fabulous house in Palm Springs.

At forty, it appears Ellie has everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished, college-age stepdaughter; a beautiful ten-year-old girl; two adorable and rambunctious six-year-old twin boys; lush, well-appointed homes in Los Angeles, Park City, and Palm Springs; a thriving career as a well-known fashion designer of casual women's wear; and a glamorous circle of friends.

Except everything is not quite as perfect as it looks on the outside—Ellie is keeping many secrets. This isn’t the first of her birthday parties that hasn't gone as planned. Something happened on the night of her sweet sixteenth. Something she’s tried hard to forget.

But hiding the skeletons of her past comes at a cost, and all of Ellie’s secrets come to light on the night of her fabulous birthday party in the desert—where everyone who matters in her life shows up, invited or not. Old and new, friends and frenemies, stepdaughters and business partners, ex-wives and ex-husbands congregate, and the glittering facade of her life crumbles in one eventful night. 

Beautifully paced and full of surprises, The Birthday Girl is an enthralling tale of a life lived in shadow, and its unavoidable consequences.

You guys. If you know me at all you know that I usually read thrillers and such in the fall and I have absolutely no idea why, it's just what I do. I don't even do it on purpose, it's just what comes to me in the fall and what I buy without thinking about it so here we are. I have a copy of The Birthday Girl in my hands and it's almost fall, so why not.

First off, this book was really good. I'm going to start you with that and I'm giving this a solid 4 stars and the only reason I wouldn't give it 5 is because I was getting confused as to who was who with nicknames and I'm not sure if this is from my cognitive impairment or if it's an intentional act by the author because by the time I got to the end and I finally realized who everyone was, it felt like all the tumblers clicked into place and I was left with my jaw open. It's like looking at a 3D puzzle and its all blurry and weird, but as soon as you put the glasses on the picture is clear as day? That is what this book was for me. To say this author crafted this story into a weird web that takes you awhile to get through is an understatement.

In this book we have Ellie, throwing her own 40th birthday party for no other reason than to show people (more like herself) that she made it. She isn't the trailer trash girl she was destined to be, that everyone thought she would be. She's rich, she's successful, she has it all, and she always wants to one up the next person. Because she can. The guest list is extensive from people she barely knows to the people from her past who know more than they should and they know that under all the glitz and makeup is a girl from a dirty trailer park with a whole other life of secrets.

The book is a dual timeline so we read about this party as it unfolds but also have flashes from her past, giving some context to why she is the way she is but also the events that led her to this day. Not only did the book keep me completely hooked because I wanted to know who Ellie really was, the absolute history of this character is unbelievable.

The beginning is a little bit slow, the middle is all of these clues thrown at you and you start to feel like the ball of yarn is unwinding and the end is just, what the hell just happened. My real quips is her husband Todd, we go through the whole book thinking he's kind of an ass and his mentioning in the book is just meh, kind of like he dropped off the planet. Also, Harry Kim, the investor in her business. I get where the author was going with that piece of the story but it felt like an unnecessary extra to me, there was enough drama in the book as it was that it didn't need to be added.

Overall? I liked this one. I read this one while on vacation, flew through it, and it was a good start to my fall suspense pile. This is kind of like suspense light because it isn't like an episode of Law & Order but it's still enough to keep you hooked until the end.
A huge thank you to Melissa de la Cruz, Dutton, and MB Communications for sending me an ARC for review! All thoughts expressed are my own, and this post contains affiliate links which help keep this blog going. If you give this one a try, let me know what you thought of it, I'm interested to see if it kept you on your toes! 


Beth (Coffee Until Cocktails) said...

I hadn't heard of this yet but I'm adding it to my list now! This sounds like the kind of thriller I'd enjoy. I like darker books like this as we get into Fall also which let's be real, is just days away at this point.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I like mysteries/thrillers all the time, but there really is something about reading them in the Fall. I know the author, but I don't think I've read any of her work...this one sounds awesome though. I'm glad to hear it's a solid 4 star read for you! I'm so curious now.