Saturday, June 14, 2008

How Does One Review a Memoir?

Almost seconds after finishing Cheryl Diamond's new memoir, aptly titled Model: A Memoir (which I briefly mentioned in my last post), I found myself slumped on my polka-dotted, faded bed wondering how, on God's green Earth, was I supposed to review - which is in essence, judging - someone else's life?

Maybe if I was a travel-weary sixtysomething who had truly experienced life for themselves, I could provide a review for this. But I'm not. I'll try my best, but, to be frank, it is impossible to review someone's life. Whew. Here goes...

Cheryl Diamond finds herself fourteen, beautiful and alone in New York City. She spends her days at Platinum Models, where (thank God!) the nicest people in the biz seem to work. Things are looking up for her. Buh-bye days of being a nobody, travelling from place to place but still not knowing where "home" is. Hello to the wonderful (and cutthroat) world of NYC modelling.

And then 9/11 happens.

Life has thrown Cheryl a curveball but the beautiful teenager keeps her witty, realistic and humourous view on life and manages to tackle the modelling world again. This time with a new agency, Prima.

Total: Three stars.

First off, a loverly grammatical error right smack dab on the first page almost made me stop reading. It wasn't terrible. I'm a total geek in the sense that my toes curl when I see grammatical mistakes. With the Gossip Girl, The Clique and It Girl novels, a turn a cheek. All the aforementioned series come from respected, bestelling authors. Who cares if they capitalize something that shouldn't be? And yet...on the first page??? Of a memoir??? Of a first-time writer? Oy vey.

Next up: Besides Cheryl herself, there are no constant characters in this book. Although she confronts this head-on about halfway through the book, I still wished for the cliche best friend type.

Lastly, I lovedlovedloved Cheryl's point of view. She is completely funny and even though the pictures printed halfway through the book are pointless, the way she describes the modelling biz's quirky characters and the bitchy, smoking-addicting models had me belly-laughing. Cheryl doesn't take any BS and is the most honest character (or rather, person) I've read about in a YA book for a long, long while.

Would YOU consider publishing a memoir of your life? I've never been the journal-keeping girl (mainly because my life - up until late - has not been very exciting) and I think I would squirm endlessly if I knew someone was reading my private thoughts.

Questions After Reading:

-Has anyone read any other good, modelling-related YA? Besides Violet on the Runway that is.

-Is Cheryl a well-known model? Besides her personal site, I haven't been able to find anything of her modelling heyday. Weird, I know.

-Cheryl never mentions a love interest in this book. Uncommon for YA literature (be it fiction or non-fiction.)


Jerry Waxler said...

Hi Gabbi,

That's a pretty nice review for someone asking how to write a review. You let me know about the book and what it meant to you. That's pretty much it. Another book to check out is by Jancee Dunn, "But Enough About Me." Jancee Dunn is an interviewer for Rolling Stone and the book is about her life interviewing pop stars. Here's the link if you want to read what I wrote about it.

Celebrity Interviewer Turns Camera on Herself


Gabrielle said...

No, Violet is the only modelling series I've really heard of.

Very thoughtful review! I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about other YA books.

Have you read any Catherine Gilbert Murdoch? I'm reading her "Princess Ben" and liking it, though I LOVED "Dairy Queen" and "Off Season." Also, my book-of-the-moment is Steve Kluger's "My Most Excellent Year," and an interview with him is being featured on my blog/site right now. I've read this book 3 times in 1 week!

Lenore Appelhans said...

I recently got A Model Summer by Paulina Porizkova but I don't think it's YA and I haven't read it yet.

I added you to my blogroll too :)

Liviania said...

For a memoir, I would concentrate on the prose. Was Cheryl's voice engaging and easy to read? On the content side, I would not judge specific actions (like when you would say you thought a character made dumb decisions in a fiction novel) but what ages you felt the content was suitable for, whether the content was interesting, perhaps highlight a scene you found really interesting.

But I think your review was very nice.

Modelling YA:

Airhead by Meg Cabot
Janine and Alex, Alex and Janine by Michael Levin (became the Disney TV movie Model Behavior)
Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz has a modelling scene but it's vampire YA.