Admit it. You saw the movie Heathers and in a cringe-worthy sort of way you enjoyed the dark comedy about high school cliques. It seems not much has changed in the twisted world of popularity where the social leaders are both loved and feared. A catty word thrown in the right direction, or a dubiously raised eyebrow can destroy reputations. Not all campaigns of destruction are that subtle, however. Let's not forget about the power of rumor, both real and fictional, friendship betrayal and overt bullying. All of that sounds horrid and dicey, but that movie is so campy, it's hard to turn away in disgust.
Eating the Cheshire Cat is Heathers for the new generation of readers who may have themselves been scorned by the high school royalty and who now, older, wiser and distanced from those days, love to laugh at the transparent feats some people went to to remain the focus of everyone's attention. In this book, even the mom's get into the picture. Remember the bizarre case of the Texas cheerleader mom who tired to have her daughter's main cheer competitor killed? People like that really exist - who knew.
Helen Ellis's book takes us to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where we see the lives of three girls and their mothers collide. Sarina wants it all - so much so that in the opening scene, her mother fills her with whisky to numb the pain of breaking her daughter's misshapen pinkie fingers. Nicole is not only Sarina's best friend, but she is obsessed with her. Killer obsessed, perhaps. I'm not far enough into the story to say that for sure, but there are surprises on every page and I wouldn't doubt that a failed murder plot will bubble soon.
I can't forget Bitty Jack Carlson, the bed-wetting camper who, for some reason always winds up in the top bunk much to the chagrin of the lower occupant. Bitty, a nice girl, gets caught between the two "pretty' girls, and after a lengthy romance with a sideshow star billed as Johnny Iguana, she inadvertently falls into a relationship with a college boy who years earlier had been manipulated into bits of naughtiness with Sarina.
Fast and furious. That's all I can say. Ellis's writing sometimes confuses with an overuse of pronouns, but the plot snaps along like a fresh and finely tuned soap opera. You can tear through this book in an afternoon and not be disappointed with the time you spent with this dark, diabolical and ridiculously unethical cast of southern socialites.
I haven't yet figured out what the title or the cover image means. I'm guessing it has something to do with falling into a rabbit hole.....
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