Paloma Rose is 16 years old and the star of one of the most popular TV shows ever. She has millions of fans and is the face of a hugely successful merchandising empire. But having had too much too young, Paloma is growing into a notorious brat and beginning to behave really badly: inappropriate boyfriends, drunken incidents, suggestive photos on the internet. The resulting bad publicity could mean the end of the show and with that the end of the lavish lifestyles her family – and her agent – have grown accustomed to. Then her agent bumps into 16 year old Oona Giness in a coffee shop and, struck by the resemblance, decides to switch Oona for Paloma and trick the wayward brat into going off to a boot camp in the desert which he hopes will sort her out. Oona, who lives with her depressed dad in a run-down apartment block, agrees to the deal in the hope that it’ll turn her life around. She quickly discovers that Hollywood is not for her, though Hollywood much prefers the new Paloma to the old one! And when Paloma finds out she’s been tricked, she breaks out of the camp and heads for home – and revenge.
Having seen Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, one of Dyan Sheldon's earlier books that was turned into a movie, I was intrigued by this story. The Truth about My Success was of the same style – there’s plenty of drama, snark, and humour. The concept was The Prince and the Pauper set in Hollywood, where the two girls were from very different backgrounds and in for a few disasters as they traded places. It was written as if it was ready to be filmed and to some degree as if it could only happen in a film.
I both liked and was annoyed by Paloma. On one hand she was conceited and selfish; as a TV star she had everything in the palm of her hand - success, fame, money - and yet she seemed determined to throw it all away by misbehaving and treating colleagues badly. But I also felt sorry for her. Her father was pretty much absent and her mother was overbearing, interfering in every aspect of her life. Her agent Jack Silk was also a slippery character who seemed to be very thoughtful and caring but may have had ulterior motives. Paloma didn't get to be a normal teenager or even relax from work, and that's all she wanted. Through the story she changed and developed as a character, becoming much more down to earth, reasonable and much more likeable.
Oona was the nicer of the two girls and to some degree the saviour of Paloma's career, however the story didn't really revolve around her and she didn't really get a lot of credit for her part in the story. I really liked her though as she was down to earth, kind and yet she had morals and was able to stand up for herself. She was the kind of girl that I could relate to and I think that she was the secret star of the show.
Although the story wasn't action packed, there was a sense of foreboding and anticipation about what might later on in the story. I was curious to see how the situation with Paloma and Oona might be resolved and whether it would end in fireworks or tears.
The Truth about My Success is a lighthearted read with lots of teen drama and suspense, but it also carries an underlying moral message.Try it for yourself! Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK