Sex? Drugs? Bad behavior? These are the obligatory ingredients for juicy Hollywood reads. But you won't much miss them in this modest but irresistible tale from actress (Goodfellas) and novelist (The Girls) Elaine Kagan.
When 25-year-old actress Chassi Jennings, daughter of a venerable film producer, throws a tantrum on a set, the studio calls a time-out and sends her into therapy. Her psychiatrist Eleanor Costello eventually determines that Chassi's histrionics are a cover for deeper issues, such as the trauma of witnessing her movie-legend mom's death in a hit-and-run accident 14 years earlier. In the process, "La Shrink" (as Chassi calls Dr. Costello) gains insight into her own troubled relationship with her daughter. Still, as neurotic, drug-addled Hollywood brats go—remember the Meryl Streep character in Postcards from the Edge?—Chassi is a Girl Scout. Not to worry, though. Kagan keeps this mother-daughter drama bubbling along with smart dialogue and alluring details of Chassi's casually posh life—from her perfect golden hair to her new black BMW, the Holmby Hills mansion and finally the breathless, latte-serving actors-in-training who want to walk in her shoes. You'll be mentally casting this role—Gwyneth? Cameron? Jennifer?—long before you put the book down. (Morrow, $24)