An August Read with Jenna Book Club pick, The Comeback, debut novel by Ella Berman portrays a behind-the-scenes look at the not-so-glamourous side of growing up in the spotlight of Hollywood fame. This book tackles tough subjects of sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse, and crumbling marital and familial relationships. The plot is rather timely in the midst of the “Me Too” movement. Berman’s prose is vividly provocative and detailed, causing readers to feel like they are experiencing and seeing things right alongside the main character, Grace.
Born Grace Hyde in London, she became Grace Turner after moving to LA at a young age and becoming a teen actress, under the watchful tutelage of famous, beloved Hollywood producer, Able Yorke. Under Able’s at first tender and then cruel care, Grace grew up never feeling any sort of love for herself and being told by Able and others that her mental health was unstable. She became known in the industry as Able’s muse, controlled by him for 8 years, but all the while she felt powerless and lost, never experiencing a normal childhood or family life.
As her most famous starring role in Lights of Berlin is nominated for a Golden Globe award, Grace’s destructive behavior of drug and alcohol abuse breaks the final straw holding her marriage to Dylan together, and she left Hollywood without so much as a goodbye, only to return to her parent’s home in Anaheim. After a year of existing with no real purpose in a home where she felt like an outsider and threatening to be crushed under the heavy guilt, pressure, and shame of her past, Grace returns to the glass house she shared with Dylan in Hollywood. She isn’t sure quite what to do with herself, but she knows she must do something before the real secret behind her crash and burn overtakes her yet again.
Grace’s younger sister Esme is kicked out of school and starting on a path of destruction as well, bringing her back into Grace’s orbit more than either of them planned. Grace also reconnects with her friend Laurel, Dylan’s girlfriend Wren, and oddly enough, Emilia Yorke – the wife of the man who both created her fame and stripped away any chance of happiness. Buckle up for quite a twist near the end. Our downtrodden heroine still has the courage and guts to take back her future, and readers will marvel at her tenacity and resolve. The Comeback is a story of many things – fame, addiction, heartbreak, love, but mostly the resilience to come back from the lowest place to find and love oneself again. I would highly recommend this book for readers of J. Courtney Sullivan and Sally Rooney.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio for a free listening copy of this title through the Volumes app.