Normal Girl: A Novel

Molly Jong-Fast

Published by Villard
ISBN 10: 0375757597 / ISBN 13: 9780375757594
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2001 - Paperback - Used - Good - - - Shows some shelf-wear. May contain old price stickers or their residue, inscriptions or dedications from previous owners in first few pages and remainder marks. -. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis:
"Randa, what's wrong with you?"
"Nothing. I mean, I'm a crazy cocaine addict with a hankering for heroin, but other than that, I'm just a nice Jewish girl from the Upper East Side with Prada shoes. How could anything be wrong?"

Molly Jong-Fast's Normal Girl is striking-and as funny as it as real. Inspired by her own experiences growing up in the decadent, fast-paced netherworld of New York City's jet set, Jong-Fast's debut novel is a hilarious, hard-edged walk past the velvet rope.

At just nineteen, Miranda Woke seems to have it all. Her parents are famous socialites, she's already been written up on Page Six sixteen times, she's on all the right invitation lists, and drugs and alcohol are never in short supply. But while her image screams "It girl," she'd rather be a normal girl, and the A-list feels even more uncomfortable than her Manolo Blahnik shoes. In fact, she's become the "living embodiment of an awkward phase" with "more issues than Harper's Bazaar." Neither Xanax nor Deepak Chopra tapes help. And now that her junkie party has trashed her parents' house, she has to liquidate her trust fund to pay Mom's decorator for a quick fix. But worst of all, Miranda thinks she just murdered her own boyfriend.

In an all-too-glamorous world where the cell phone is always ringing, Miranda sees no escape other than a downward spiral of cocaine, Valium, and heroin. It takes friends who offer more than air kisses to force Miranda to look in the mirror and get some help.

Review: A spare, druggy novel of manners written by a precocious, reportedly druggy undergraduate: ring any bells? With her first novel, Normal Girl, Molly Jong-Fast may not owe a debt to society, but she certainly owes one to Bret Easton Ellis. Her heroine is Miranda Woke, child of a socialite mother who's "thin, in that willowy, dehydrated way that all socialites are thin" and an absentee father--"a short, fat, balding Jewish man who's rich, rich, rich, and famous, famous, famous." If her parental descriptors seem a little surface-y, well, that's Miranda, a girl whose A-list life consists of working in a gallery, going to parties, and consuming all the coke and heroin she can get her mitts on.

The book's rather sketchy plot opens with Miranda attending the funeral of her addict boyfriend. In chatty prose that clips right along, we follow her through a series of parties, dinners, and lots and lots of trips to the bathroom. As often as not, she ends the evening flat on her back: "Dosage has never been my forte." The gallery sinecure sees very little page time; it's mostly an excuse for Miranda to attend art-world parties and be snide. (The weakest parts of the novel come when Jong-Fast tries her hand at roman à clef: referring to Julian Schnabel as "Schnozzle" just doesn't give the required frisson.)

But life isn't all dry cleaning and speedballs; things are starting to fall apart for this party girl. "The loneliness," she says, "may kill me before the drugs ever have their chance." Miranda winds up in Hazelden, where she rehabs wittily and successfully. Jong-Fast, with the earnest vigor of the 20-year-old she was when she wrote Normal Girl, seems to buy the recovery line utterly. Maybe that's because she, the druggy daughter of a famous parent, has said in interviews that she's been down just the same road as Miranda. She's told her story with a modicum of grace; perhaps her future novels will actually be good. --Claire Dederer

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Normal Girl: A Novel
Publisher: Villard
Book Condition: Good

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