Last year, I had the great delight of reading Daisy Jones & the Six. There was something so electric about Taylor Jenkins Reid’s re-imagined 1970s rock scene. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. It was a mystical journey, almost as if I was watching a VH1 Behind the Music episode.
Fast forward to today. I saw the cover of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes and it reminded me, just vaguely, of Daisy Jones and her ragtag rock band. The similarities end at the cover. Two white women with blonde-ish hair consuming the front cover, font loud and proud. As a debut from Elissa R. Sloan, I felt required to give it a whirl.
Hi! This is a trigger warning. This book contains descriptions of self harm, assault, and depression. Please be mindful before moving forward with either this book or this review.
Cassidy Holmes is a near overnight celebrity thanks to the rapid success of her girl group, Gloss. Together, the four young Glossies (Cassidy, Yumi, Rose, and Merry) are at the top of the early 2000s pop scene until suddenly… it implodes. Cassidy walks out. Now, 15 years later, the rest of the group is shocked to learn that Cassidy has committed suicide and the question remains: Why?
Expected Publication Date: September 1, 2020
We have here a perfect example of a stepping stone between what is surface level young adult fiction and the deeper realm of contemporary fiction. The characters (aged 19) would also make a great audience, but the real hook is for those of us who remember early 2000s pop. If you have any sort of nostalgia for Britney’s Toxic or anything Spice girls related, you’ll appreciate being sucked into the Los Angeles of 2001.
I enjoyed that Sassy Cassy is complex. Excited for music, nervous for fame. How does it feel to be jolted into the lime light when you grew up with a less-than-perfect family in a little podunk town? She is a believable character with believable motives. The story isn’t riddled with luxury items and brands. Sloan smartly leaves out brand names for the most part and lets the reader re-live their memories as they are. If you’ve even seen one episode of TRL, you know what she’s talking about. For the most part, it’s an easy read.
With that said, some of the characters felt inessential to the plot. Some of them I didn’t even like (or like to hate). While I enjoyed the multiple points of view, I would have preferred them to be third person with Cassidy as our first person focal. The constant first person switch gets a little confusing if you aren’t paying well enough attention and the personalities of the other three Glossies aren’t developed enough to differentiate. There is a romance between two women that comes off completely gratuitous and serves no purpose to the plot. (Not to say two female characters can’t be in a relationship, this one is almost embarrassingly forced as if an after-thought.)
You won’t dislike this book. It’s what I like to deem as airport-worthy: if I reached into my carry on bag and only had this book, I wouldn’t be terribly upset about it. Overall, three out of five stars.