The format of this book is interesting, and not just because it bounces back and forth between the past and the present. It has all the components of a classic relationship train wreck — what’s different about this is that the author begins with the wreck, and you need to piece the story together in a backhanded sort of way. It is a terrific wreck, as those things go, and I was gawking, slack-jawed on the very first page. Whiting plays with this concept like a magician, as things (and circumstances) are rarely how they first appear. Filling in the backstory in this way makes you rethink your initial reactions and suspend moral judgement until all the facts are in.
Of course, knowing what's going to happen makes those scenes that take place in the past more frustrating and ironic, and I had to keep reminding myself that Lulu, the protagonist, doesn’t have the benefit of that knowledge. For the reader, it’s like being the omnipotent (but sometimes easily misdirected) narrator.
The novel is filled with quirky, intense characters, and they are described with care and heart. There are celebrities and artists of some renown, and they live their lives on a stage of their own design, in front of a fickle public. Lulu has gotten right into the thick of this mess, and extracting herself without lasting damage is going to be complicated and emotionally draining. I particularly liked that it is a messy book, people make stupid mistakes, they have all kinds of baggage, and they sometimes create bigger messes trying to clean up the small ones. It will make your life seem perfectly uncomplicated and solid by comparison. It is a heartwarming story, though, and you understand, even from the precarious beginning, that there is no need for worry, things will somehow work out for the best in the end.