Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: Watch Out Hollywood, More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child

Today I am back with author Maria Lennon discussing her new book ''Watch Out Hollywood, More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child'' the follow up to her best selling ''Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child''

In the second book ( link here with title) Charlie tells a ''white lie'' that hurts her friend Marta. Charlie is torn between her own desires and wanting what is best for Marta. Hollywood dreams for Charlie and Olympic dreams for Marta are the center story line in this book.

Jules: Maria, it is so good to have you back. I cannot tell you how honored I was that you remembered our interview from last year and wanted to come back. I loved the first book so I was thrilled to hear there was a follow-up. Charlie is back in all of her tween glory learning some tough life lessons. How has life changed since the last time we spoke? What's new?

Maria: Hi Jules, I’m so happy to be back. You are one of my all-time favorite bloggers. You totally got Charlie and shared my weird fascination with 70’s Olympic Gymnasts, which is pretty random. The big bummer of the year was I broke my wrist on the way to volunteering in my son’s kindergarten class and had surgery so that meant making sandwiches for four kids with one hand. That was a major bummer. Then I met a woman in physical therapy who broke both wrists at the same time and I felt kind of lucky.

Jules: Growing up what were your favorite books? This book reminds me a lot of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I see a lot of Harriet in Charlie. She is off beat, has her own style and thought processes different than most girls her age. Harriet was one of my favorite heroines in my youth.  

Maria: Again you nailed it—Harriet the Spy was a huge inspiration. I loved, loved, loved watching her get mad, make mistakes, get it wrong and then discover her own path. I try to do that with Charlie—show how mistakes become opportunities for growth.

Jules: Okay're killing me with the Romanian gymnast stuff.  I spent from 1984 to 1988 pretending I was Nadia Comenanci or Teadora Ungreano daily with my friend Christena. Then I had a Romanian best friend in high school. My friend Flavia ( who is Romanian) tells me that I am Romanian by osmosis. Where did you get this Romanian story line?

It’s just one of those moments in time that is burned in my memory. My father calling me into his room and telling me I had to see this gymnast who was unlike anything he’d ever seen before. So we all gathered to watch the tiny, determined little Nadia on the beam, the floor, the rings doing things that looked impossibly perfect. The only other time that happened was when he said the same thing about a little kid by the name of Michael Jackson.

Jules: Speaking of my friend Christena, she was my partner in crime. I am going to send her this book because it is SO us. Alternative dressing girls who told white lies all the time. We both just wanted to be liked and be cool sometimes to our own detriment. Would you agree white lies are rampant in junior high? Did you ever tell a white lie to be liked? Charlie just wants to be liked but she also wants to do the right thing.

See, Jules, here’s the thing: White lies are the fabric of life.  Most adults tell them all the time about everything. Someone says: Do I look fat in this? No, of course you don’t. Was the meal good? Wonderful. And kids pick up on this faster than a sponge picks up bacteria. Seriously. And then we spend a lot of time covering our tracks. This is what Charlie does. She tells a lie she doesn’t think is a big deal, she convinces herself it’s not a big deal and when she learns that it is, well, she goes nuts trying to make it go away.
I’m sure I lied when I was a kid, what kid doesn’t? But I was always horrible at it. Got caught before the lie left my mouth. I’d rather rip the Band-Aid off fast by telling the ugly truth then slowly with the white lie. Plus it’s way to hard to remember the lie.

Jules: I love these books because you heavily feature the Laurel Canyon area where you live. I just think it is awesome to see a young girl growing up in So.Cal in writing. Everyone knows ''someone'' on television and wants to be in the industry growing up. I had a few friends growing up that had headshots and were always going to auditions. Does this come from your own youth or from experiences with your daughters?

Maria: Thank you. What I love about Laurel Canyon is that it is very old school LA—you’ve got the rockers, the hippies, the actors but they’re not the flashy actors like Ton Cruise. People like Joachim Phoenix live up here. Trent Reznor, and James Gandolfini had a house here. He used to walk his dog in his boxer shorts. Most of the people here are into their art and not their fame. Their houses are falling apart like the rest of ours, their kids go to the local public school and they do their best to maintain their privacy and be a part of the community. Until pretty recently flashy cars, fake boobs and lips weren’t to be seen. But things are changing. Developers are coming. I’m a third generation LA girl so I stay clear of Hollywood J But a lot of kids go out on auditions, there are casting calls all the time at the local public school (Happy Canyon) and most of the middle and high schools offer cinematic arts. We have a lot of friends who are actors and my children see how hard it is on the soul to be rejected so consistently. They have no interest in perusing it.

Jules: I noticed the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger? Can we expect more from Charlie and Marta? 

Maria: Oh yeah and the canyon and Bobby….

Jules: Have you ever thought about writing a book from Marta's point of view? I would be just as interested to see a more human side to Marta.

Maria: Yes! Yes! Yes! I love Marta and in this book I love the way she deals with being manipulated, with being hurt and ditched. I’d like her to go to the Olympics in Beijing and free some political prisoners like I Wei- Wei. She’s so funny and of course has zero tact. Not that Charlie has much tact either.

Jules: I cannot thank you enough for coming back to chat with me and for the lovely inscription in the book.  I can't wait to see what you come up with next. Thanks for speaking with me today, keep me posted on the future adventures of Charlie Cooper.

Maria: Thank you for having me and loving the characters and all that you do for kids and books!

You can buy the book on:

About Maria Lennon:

Maria T. Lennon is a graduate of the London School of Economics, 
a novelist, and an established screenwriter. She has lived in New York, 
Genova, Paris, and London and currently resides with her family in Los 
Angeles, California. You can visit her online at

*disclaimer: This isn't a paid review, I just really like Maria and she likes me enough to send me a copy of her book. She didn't ask me to review the book, she just wanted me to have a copy.