Book Review: Being Audrey Hepburn
By: Mitchell Kriegman
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Page Count: 336
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult/New Adult - Contemporary
Audrey Hepburn is an icon and her little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's is perhaps one of the most iconic fashion pieces from film history. Women all over the world have ached to wear that dress and pull of Audrey's flawless grace and poise. Not many of us will ever have the chance to be near a piece of Audrey's life, but what if the little black dress fell into your hands? What would you do? Some might choose to gaze lovingly at the fabric and hope to conjure Audrey as fingers skim the fabric. Others might be too afraid to take the dress out of the box and would just glance at it meekly. While a few might be brave enough to slip the dress from its box and try it on. If you fall into the last group - this is the book for you.
I have to admit that while I have always admired Audrey Hepburn, I am not one who would call herself obsessed. In fact, I haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's. I know, I know - I need to remedy that soon. All that aside, even not being someone who adores Audrey, I can still appreciate her talent. Audrey may not be what gets my fangirl heart going, but I do understand how it would feel to be faced with something so monumental.
The main character, Lisbeth, is all about Audrey. Hepburn films become her escape from her less than stellar life in New Jersey. Lisbeth has been hiding in her closet with Audrey films to escape the arguments swirling through her house. I had a difficult time relating to Lisbeth as her life is vastly different than my own experiences as a teenager. I did use fiction as an escape tool, but mine was largely novels, and I wasn't escaping a dysfunctional household. I was on the shy side and fiction allowed me to be brave and meet a variety of people. Lisbeth uses the Audrey films as more of a band-aid.
Fate intervenes and Lisbeth's life changes when she gets a call from her friend, Jess, who works at The Met. Jess knows how Lisbeth feels about Audrey and she can't wait to show her the box that contains the hand stitched Givenchy dress and matching gloves. Like all fangirls, Lisbeth freaks out when confronted with something so special. She immediately begs to try on the dress which leads to a turn of events that she never could have imagined. Lisbeth goes from being a New Jersey nobody to someone all the "it" people know. Is it possible that one little black dress can change a person's future?
While I enjoyed the concept of this novel and wanted to love it, I didn't. It was good, but it did take some effort on my part to push through to the end. I never got to a point where I cared about Lisbeth all that much. I knew I was supposed to be rooting for her to get her happy ending, but my reaction to her was tepid at best. This apathy towards the protagonist kept me from caring about her personal journey. It's hard to love a novel when you don't love the main character; it throws everything off balance.
The pacing just felt off and never got into a rhythm that held my attention for long stretches. I found the middle to be a bit tedious and my attention kept drifting.
Overall, I'm glad I stuck with this one. While it isn't one of my favorites, there are a lot of strengths in this one. I just don't think I was the right reader to fully appreciate them. I kept thinking I might like this better if it were a movie or a tv show. I liked the idea of this one, but I feel it is a read more suited for the fashionistas and Audrey-philes out there.
One Last Gripe: Lisbeth's choices frustrated me on multiple occasions.
Favorite Thing About This Book: It was apparent that a lot of effort had been put into research about Audrey Hepburn and fashion. I always appreciate when authors do their homework to make their story feel authentic.
First Sentence: It all started with that little black dress.
Favorite Character: Jess
Least Favorite Character: Lisbeth
In Being Audrey Hepburn, Clarissa Explains It All-creator, Mitchell Kriegman, tells the story of a 19-year-old girl from Jersey who finds herself thrust into the world of socialites after being seen in Audrey Hepburn’s dress from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Lisbeth comes from a broken home in the land of tube tops, heavy eyeliner, frosted lip-gloss, juiceheads, hoop earrings and “the shore.” She has a circle of friends who have dedicated their teenage lives to relieve the world of all its alcohol one drink at a time.
Obsessed with everything Audrey Hepburn, Lisbeth is transformed when she secretly tries on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy. She becomes who she wants to be by pretending to be somebody she’s not and living among the young and privileged Manhattan elite. Soon she’s faced with choices that she would never imagine making – between who she’s become and who she once was.
In the tradition of The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, this is a coming of age story that all begins with that little black dress…