Julie in the News
Julie spotlighted on Eyewitness News ABC-TV 7 New York with Sandy Kenyon for Zibby Owen’s Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast
Julie’s podcast interview with Zibby Owens on the award-winning Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast
“9 Books About Mom Life Julie Valerie Thinks Every Mother Should Read” article by Julie on Frolic
Virginia Living Magazine books column by Mindy Kinsey spotlight on Holly Banks Full of Angst
“7 Books We’re Loving Now” First for Women Magazine feature of Holly Banks Full of Angst
Julie a December author in The Nerd Daily creator Elise Dumpleton’s “36 Authors Making their Debut between July and December 2019” feature
The Book Club Cookbook Website & Newsletter for Book Clubs: Holly Banks Full of Angst a December 2019 featured title
“Holly Banks has just moved with her husband, Jack, and their five-year-old daughter, Ella, to the Village of Primm. Their house, with its (former) Pinterest-worthy front porch, is full of boxes, and an eyesore of a bedsheet is hung up in lieu of curtains. Holly is doing all she can to keep it together for Ella as she starts kindergarten. From missing the bus to hitting the bus, all on the first day, things start on the wrong foot. When Holly skips out early during the first PTA meeting, the president, Mary-Margaret St. James, makes sure Holly pays her dues by assigning her to various committees. Thus begins Holly’s descent into a rabbit hole where exterior appearances are everything. Debut author Valerie’s excellent take on modern motherhood illustrates a mother’s attempts to keep up with the Joneses. Full of humor, including a bout with one too many detox cookies, an online psychic, and a cat doula, Valerie plays out the drama of being a wife and a mother. VERDICT Perfect for fans of Laurie Gelman’s “Class Mom” series and the TV show Desperate Housewives.”
HOLLY BANKS FULL OF ANGST
Review Issue Date: September 1, 2019
Online Publish Date: August 19, 2019
A mom tries—and spectacularly fails—to fit into her new picture-perfect town. When Holly Banks moves to the Village of Primm, she hopes it will be the start of a new adventure for her family. With its wonderful school system, immaculately tended lawns, and superinvolved parents, Primm couldn’t be anything less than perfect. However, aspiring-filmmaker Holly soon realizes that the town bears a slightly creepy resemblance to Stepford (of the famous wives), and no one appreciates her minor failures to live up to the status quo—like, for example, showing up to kindergarten drop-off while wearing pajamas or accidentally hitting a school bus in her attempts to move her car. Holly quickly finds a nemesis in PTA president Mary-Margaret St. James, a bizarrely Primm-obsessed mom who talks about herself in the third person and won’t let Holly leave the premises without volunteering for something (an d not just for napkin duty, because everyone knows only the slacker moms sign up to bring napkins). But Holly has other things to worry about—for starters, she thinks her husband might be having an affair, she constantly has to pay her mother’s gambling debts, and she’s feeling bored and restless after putting her filmmaking dreams aside. Holly starts making her own documentary using the subject matter in front of her but soon realizes that Primm’s perfect veneer hides more than a few secrets. There are many novels about women struggling to fit into upper-class communities, but debut author Valerie manages to create a story that feels fresh, with sparkling dialogue that could have come from a weirder version of Gilmore Girls. Most of that is due to Holly’s voice, which is quirky without ever being annoying, and the cast of wacky side characters who are satirical while still feeling like real human beings. There are even several laugh-out-loud moments, most of them revolving around the bug infestation destroying the town’s prized topiaries, a privileged problem that highlights just how hilariously ridiculous the Village of Primm is. A unique and over-the-top look at modern motherhood, full of funny and cringeworthy moments.
Holly Banks Full of Angst
Print issue: October 15, 2019
Online: October 9, 2019
Holly Banks, her husband, Jack, and their daughter, Ella, are the newest residents of the Village of Primm. An idyllic suburban enclave, Primm boasts a famed topiary garden, festivals in the town square, and an extremely engaged PTA president. Mary-Margaret St. James runs the social calendar of Primm Academy, and hasn’t met a task too big to bully fellow parents into volunteering for. When Holly gets off on the wrong foot with Mary-Margaret, she stumbles into a mystery she’ll do anything to solve. Valerie’s witty, rollicking novel is an ode to modern motherhood in the vein of Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It (2002) and Francesca Segal’s The Awkward Age (2017). While the plot pacing lags a bit, Holly’s journey from shrinking violet to confident kindergarten parent will entertain until the last page. Holly’s rich inner world and a larger-than-life ensemble of supporting characters plant this novel firmly in the dark comedy camp, perfect for fans of Matthew Norman and Francie Arenson Dickman. A charmingly cautionary tale of the pursuit for domestic perfection.
Kathleen McInerney’s dynamic narration will have listeners either laughing out loud or cringing as she skillfully captures the absurdity and craziness of this dark comedic debut. Stressed out and overwhelmed, Holly Banks is failing at getting her life together after her husband’s job relocates them across the country to the zany village of Primm. With the brisk plot taking place in only a week, McInerney’s pace and lively tones reinforce the constant urgency of trying to be the perfect mom. McInerney easily transitions between characters and never misses a beat as the story unfolds through scenes, emails, texts, and inner monologue. Especially noteworthy is McInerney’s portrayal of Holly’s emotional vulnerability as she prepares both herself and her daughter for kindergarten.
E.P. © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine