Julie Valerie’s debut novel, Holly Banks Full of Angst, is a laugh out loud adventure of a relatable woman and how even the most sensible of us can be blindsided by the quest for a Pinterest Perfect life.
This novel has an interesting format that combines screenplay and narrative. Protagonist Holly Banks is a film nerd who even went to film school, and now is often distracted by the film version of her life playing in her mind as she lives her actual life. When her husband’s job moves them across the country, she falls for the Pinterest version of life paraded before her and then struggles to fit into this new world.
I loved being inside Holly’s head. She’s a thoroughly relatable character, and often says and thinks the things we all often think but rarely say. I did hate all the terrible things happening to her! The beginning of novels can often be hard for my empathetic side, as our protagonists often undergo much hardship they spend the rest of the novel overcoming. Holly Banks as a character is indeed super relatable, from mom comparisons, lusting after Pinterest perfection, and trying to find your tribe.
Her character isn’t all laughter and bubbles, though. This novel includes one of the more accurate representations of what it is like to have a parent who was an alcoholic during your childhood, and clearly shows how our perceptions of our parents change as time and our own parenthood clarify what all they went through; the process of seeing our parents as people is an enlightening one and one made harder by childhood trauma.
The plot of this novel mostly centers around Holly Banks and her family, though a subplot is seamlessly woven into the general plot in a way that comes out quite neatly at the end. There were also a few moments of foreshadowing not addressed later in the book that I expect will be further explored in subsequent novels, as the Village of Prime seems to be getting a series. I’m looking forward to seeing where these loose threads lead in the following books. While the novel does begin just a little slow some points skewed predictable, it was still thoroughly enjoyable and relatable.
Julie Valerie’s Holly Banks Full of Angst will be available December 1, 2019.