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Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, collectively known (and, in some circles, feared) as The Fug Girls, have one of those blogs I can reliably count on to cheer me up on a long day. Their biting wit is the kind of thing you can enjoy/revel in/guffaw at whether or not you follow fashion or celebrity culture. It's just that funny.

That's why I was delighted, but not really surprised, to find myself laughing aloud at key passages in their first non-Fug Girls book, the young adult novel SPOILED. It's acerbic, topical, and set in a world the Fug Girls know well. But its snarky, glitzy exterior contains a story with genuine heart and sweetness.

Sixteen-year-old Molly has grown up in Indiana with her awesome single mother Laurel, never knowing --- or even seeing a picture of --- her father. So when, on her deathbed, Laurel reveals to Molly that her dad is none other than Hollywood star Brick Berlin, Molly is understandably confused, not to mention shaken by her mom's death. But she also knows how important family is, so at Brick's invitation, she packs up and heads to Los Angeles, leaving behind her best friend and the boyfriend whom she's loved forever and who sustained her through her mom's illness.

Brick seems generous and eager to please, if a tad distracted and a trifle goofy. His daughter Brooke, however, is a far tougher nut to crack. Poised (at least in her mind) for her own swan dive into stardom, she's furious that Molly's much-publicized arrival in Hollywood is overshadowing her own shot at fame. Almost from day one, she's out to sabotage Molly, painting her as a drunk and a hick, and (worst of all) giving her terrible fashion advice. When Brick, in typical, well-meaning style, orders the girls to share a room and spend every spare moment together, Brooke and Molly bristle. How are they possibly supposed to become friends if they can't stand the sight of one another?

School is a whole separate challenge for Molly, who's not used to the cutthroat world of LA's elite private schools. She's assigned to make the costumes for the play Brooke is directing and starring in, but Brooke's resentment and Molly's resistance threaten to bring the show to a halt. Soon Molly is caught between Brooke and Brooke's sworn enemy, Shelby, a tabloid reporter-in-training. Who are her real friends? And can she maintain connections with the people she loves back in the Midwest, which feels like another planet compared to LA?

As one might expect from the Fug Girls, SPOILED contains both crackling dialogue and genuinely hilarious one-liners. Suffused with pop culture references, descriptions of fashion, and funny film titles, the book is in many ways a romp through the world of Hollywood wealth and privilege that Cocks and Morgan have been skewering for years. In the end, though, it is a remarkably touching, romantic, and even sweet story about two girls who are both trying their best to cope with similar losses and disappointments. For both Molly and Brooke, finding a long-lost sister might be the last thing they wanted --- but it's exactly what they needed.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 1, 2011

by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy
  • ISBN-10: 0316098256
  • ISBN-13: 9780316098250