New ARC Review: The Paper Wasp

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Expected publication: June 11th 2019 by Grove Press

Rating 3.25 of 5 stars

As my first Lauren Acampora book, I found her writing to be poetic and thoughtful in design. Her imaginings of a character (Abby) lend to realistic character thoughts without feeling like the reader is being painted a picture of a person someone else sees. Instead, the readers gather their own version of truth or understanding from the character because the character makes no apologies and has very sound reasoning for her decisions. This is a mark of great thought put into who a character is versus what a character does in the scope of a storyline. This story lost a few stars for me because it was mostly a singular story about Abby (her dreams, thoughts and feelings) and stories like these tend to fall a bit flat for me. I may need more by way of the storyline since nothing happened remotely shocking until the very end.

The story follows Abby, a young woman attempting to find her place in life after having a anxiety ridden breakdown that caused her to throw herself off a bridge. Upon recovering, she finds that she has life breathed into her by following her bestfriends journey as a Hollywood star through cutting and saving tabloid stories of her, yet never reaching out to her. Abby lives in her own world. While she is realistic about herself, she is often quite critical and judgmental of others she meets. She is obsessed with her bestfriend in a more love-induced quasi-admiration, which causes her to reflect on her life. Elise, Abby’s bestfriend, relies on Abby for her emotional health yet when she is riding high on life, she casts her out as a prop. When she is low, she drains Abby of her optimism, puts her in a place of power to change her thinking, her mood or her future. This pushes Abby to become someone she wants to be…needed and wanted. But in this need, she feels used (although Abby herself uses Elise for her own selfish pleasures…her money, opportunity and unhealthy devotion).

Abby finds a life in Los Angeles with Elise until a man comes into their life and forces them to create healthy space and boundaries. This will be the catalyst to many lucid dreams by Abby, who has the power to have visions in her dreams of the actual future. These visions drive Abby to new places in her own life and in her own understanding about who she is and what she is capable of. Abby herself is flawed, deeply. She makes many mistakes although she never acknowledges them but readers will find her to be self-righteous, misguided yet redeemable. This is the ultimate story of characterization. You will see who Abby thinks she is and readers will know who she really is. You’ll want to tell her “You’re no better than those you judge!” and want to scream to her that she is a liar, a bad friend and thief…but you can’t. You are stuck in Abby’s slowly evolving understanding of herself. Her gift will take her far but who she is in the end will leave readers wondering if its a happy ending or not. Recommended for readers who enjoy character based stories that show growth of a single character.

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

*Special thanks to Grove Press and imprint of Grove Atlantic for the softcopy for an honest review.

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