by Liza Palmer
Published by Flatiron
Genre: women’s fiction
3.5 / 5
The “F” word in question here is not the one you might expect, nor is there only one. In fact, the title of this book very well could be The F Words.
Olivia Morten is a successful Hollywood publicist and is married to a gorgeous, successful E.R. doctor. They live in a beautiful home, drive beautiful cars, and have beautiful friends. She’s living the dream, isn’t she?
Over the course of a few months, though, Olivia realizes that her life is far from a show piece. For one thing, there is a fact from her high school years that she would rather keep hidden. When she bumps into Ben Dunn (that name … it made me laugh), a former high school enemy and a guy she secretly loved, the feelings attached to that fact rocket to the surface. For another, that perfect husband might be a façade. He’s never around, unless is suits him to be, and he’s hardly a support system for his wife. Then there is Olivia’s job, in which she perpetuates fraud. She is a professional fixer-of-reputations, even if that fixing requires faking her clients’ truths.
Facts. Feelings. Façade. Fraud. Fake. Those are the F words controlling Olivia’s life.
Olivia, then, needs to add a sixth F word: faithful. She needs to learn to be faithful to herself, to who she truly is. Those friends of hers? The relationships seem built on proximity rather than anything real. When they need to support each other, that support never materializes. And her husband? He presents a shiny, attractive patina, but what does he offer beneath that? Of all of the frauds Olivia perpetuates, her job – the one that requires her to trade on deception – may be the most real thing in her life.
Liza Palmer does not limit her focus to Olivia. She also turns a winking, satirical eye on Hollywood and its phoniness. The running joke on eating bread is humorous and, you sense, spot on. At the same time, Palmer makes it clear that you, the fan, are as much a part of this mirage as the actors and their teams. We want to believe the pretense, even when we know it’s a lie.
Olivia is not always likable. In fact, I spent most of the book not liking her at all. There were moments, though, when I felt for her deeply. Ben Dunn (again … that name) is a catalyst for the changes Olivia needs to admit she has to make, but he’s too undeveloped to be more than that. This story sits squarely on Olivia’s shoulders, whether she likes it or not, and sometimes she is not up to the task. Yet when she rises to a confrontation that Palmer builds to, you are right there with her, cheering for her and bolstering her.
Our lives consist of many F words, the most important, perhaps, being ‘faithful.’
At once a funny, whip-smart sendup of Los Angeles culture and an irresistible love story, internationally bestselling author Liza Palmer’s The F Word is a novel about how sometimes who we become isn’t who we really are.
“We’re all pushing some version of the life we want you to believe. It’s all just PR.”
Olivia Morten is perfect. Maybe her high-flying publicist job has taken over her life, but her clients are Los Angeles’ hottest celebrities. Maybe her husband is never around, but he is a drop-dead-gorgeous, successful doctor. Maybe her friends are dumb, but they know how to look glamorous at a cocktail party. And maybe her past harbors an incredibly embarrassing secret, but no one remembers high school…right?
When Ben Dunn, Olivia’s high school arch nemesis and onetime crush, suddenly resurfaces, Olivia realizes how precarious all of her perfection is. As she finds herself dredging up long-suppressed memories from her past, she is forced to confront the most painful truth of all: maybe she used to be the fat girl, but she used to be happy, too.
About the Author:
Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl and five other novels. An Emmy-nominated writer, she lives in Los Angeles and works for BuzzFeed.
Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.