In Nora Zelevansky’s hilarious debut, Semi-Charmed Life, an Upper West Side naïf, Beatrice Bernstein, gets swept up in the seemingly magical life of socialite Veruca Pfeffernoose, while ghost writing her blog. Veruca’s glitteringly opulent world soon seduces Beatrice away from her own insular, arty family with a promise of fancy parties, travel outside Manhattan (for once) and one desperately cute guy. But when her new glitzy lifestyle starts to take on dark undertones, Beatrice has to decide who she is—once and for all. With her own magical touch, Zelevansky deftly explores the world of rarified Manhattan in this sparkling modern fairy tale of first love, finding one’s voice and growing up.
(Synopsis and Image from Goodreads)
Semi-Charmed Life is right on the cusp of YA and Adult, as it follows Beatrice (or Bea, Beany Baby, and many more nicknames) through her senior year of college and the unusual people she meets who don’t seem to be as amazing as she thinks they are…
This book is hilarious. Like flat-out, milk-squirting out of your nose hilarious. Beatrice has an interesting look on life (she calls it naïve, but I call it genius) that makes you laugh and think about thing from a different perspective. She is a character you like from the beginning – her witty sense of humor, fear of cockroaches (I cant totally relate to this one), and desire to see the world – Beatrice is the college student in us all.
Beatrice describes her family early on, her father as someone who doesn’t see the point in leaving the Upper West Side of New York City, her mother as renown curator, and her older sister Gertie a lover of Proust and well-known face in the literary society of NYC. She comes from a family with a mentality that you could stay in the Upper West Side forever, and Beatrice wants to see the world, to discover, to experience. When people find out her last name is Bernstein, they automatically group her in with the rest of her family – something that she hates, and may possibly be of use to her later.
Veruca. Oh, lovely Veruca.
I admit, I didn’t like her at all through about 19/20ths of this book. She was stuck-up and didn’t care about her supposed “friend” Beatrice. But, in the very last two chapters of the book, my opinion changed – and I think this is something that Nora Zelevansky did wonderfully – flipping our opinion at the very end to make for a perfect wrap-up. Veruca’s “friends” were odd, and the only one I remotely liked was Dreyfus, who in the end surprised me as well. This book is just full of surprises.
I really enjoyed this book – it surprised me with it’s hints of mystery and witty narrator, this novel is sure to be well-loved.