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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Life in the Hollywood Lane is a contemporary fiction novel written by Ann Crawford. Trish had grown up seeing herself as an ugly duckling, something she referred to as “fugly”. First, there was her crazy red hair that redefined the term “naturally curly”, and not, as Trish saw it, in a good way. Then there were the freckles that seemed to proliferate madly all over her body. She learned to avoid exposure to the sun to keep them under control, which did end up giving her gorgeous, unspoiled skin, but she just didn’t understand why other redheads had managed to evade whatever gene had predisposed her to freckling and blessed her with so many of them. As she got older, however, she learned about flat-irons and found ways to make her hair behave, and with the skillful application of makeup, she actually looked and felt pretty good about herself, gorgeous even.
Her transformation led her to think of Hollywood, and the bright lights, palm trees and sunny skies of Los Angeles. And everything did change as she stepped off the plane. All the pain she still held from losing her little brother to a fatal heart condition and a life she considered mediocre at best dissipated as she beheld her new hometown and the infinite possibilities it held for her. She soon met Cyndi at an audition. Like her, Cyndi had red hair, and they were nearly the same age. Cyndi was everything that Trish would like to be: her hair was blissfully straight and flowing -- she had no freckles. People seemed to swoon when Cyn walked into a room. They quickly became besties and then roomies, living in a perfect little “hobbit house” surrounded by trees and gentle hills. Cyn and Trish went to parties together, had their acting jobs and became moderately successful in Hollywood. But as forty approached, Cyn grew ever more despondent and even gloomy. She wasn’t at all impressed with her life and definitely not with facing forty. Then she didn’t.
When does one come of age? Is it when moving up from middle to high school, or making the first step in deciding a career? And does one only come of age once in a lifetime, or is it a continual process? In Life in the Hollywood Lane, Ann Crawford’s actor-hero, Trish, sees her life in the “village of happy people” suddenly ripped out from under her when her friend of twenty plus years commits suicide. After being part of a closely knit BFF team her entire adult life, Trish is cast adrift, grief competing with guilt as she wondered if she could have said or done something to have kept her friend alive. This perceptive, wise and funny tale follows Trish as she finally reaches out and explores the world without her sidekick, and begins to understand her place in the scheme of things. Sound like a coming of age tale to you? It did to me, and it’s a marvelous one. While this novel is categorized as chick lit, the themes of recovery from grief, self-knowledge and courage resonated with me quite strongly. Trish’s story is compelling and universal in so many ways. Life in the Hollywood Lane is most highly recommended.