The poetic and talented Beth Kephart interviewed me here. You should check it out because she makes me sound far more awesome than I am. (Stay to look at the rest of her blog too. There's beautiful photos, interesting thoughts, and she's begun to vlog.)
By C. Leigh Purtill
I must admit, before I started ALL ABOUT VEE I believed I knew how the story would turn out. Naive young woman goes to Hollywood to make it big? Plus-sized girl tries to make it in an industry obsessed with too-thin girls? I expected a story that would feel good in the end, but until then I'd face the protagonist's lack of self-confidence and growing disillusionment. No, I don't hate that kind of book. It's simply a familiar trajectory and sometimes you long for something different.
Something different is what C. Leigh Purtill delivered. In the first chapter, she smacked down my prejudices. Veronica wasn't self-conscious about her weight. Oh, she knows she's 217 pounds. She also knows it doesn't matter onstage. Onstage she's a star. She's got arrogance and pride because she's talented, hard-working, and a budding star.
But while Vee has plenty of confidence in her professional life, she's less certain in her personal. She's fond of her father's long-time fiancee, May May, but she just can't bring herself to acknowledge her as a mother figure. It's the discovery of her mother Diana's letters to her father while she tried to make it as an actress that convinces Vee to make her move. She's seeking a connection with her mother just as much as she's seeking success.
She leaves the two Vees - Val and Virginia - in Chester, AZ, and joins the Vee - Vivian, who now goes by Reed - who already set out for Hollywood. It's beautiful, tiny Reed who lacks self-confidence, not Veronica. Of course, Veronica trusts her friend and misses how Reed knocks her down to build herself up. Luckily for Veronica, she makes some real friends. These real friends include Phillip, the cute coffee shop manager who encourages Veronica to remain true to her talent.
It's hard to watch Vee try to navigate Hollywood. She's learning a new medium, realizing that some of her stage training works against acting in front of a camera. She's also learning that some roles will never consider her, despite her skill. Others will consider her regardless of skill, to make her a sitcom's token slob. Despite this, Veronica remains refreshingly confident and optimistic to the end.
Purtill resolves Veronica's issues with her family equally well. Early on I realized that if Diana became famous, Veronica's life likely wouldn't exist. It's interesting to read Diana's letters and put the pieces of the past together. It's also interesting to see how they help Vee appreciate her father and May May, who she left rather callously in the beginning of the novel.
As for the love interest, I like Phillip. He knows how to appreciate personality, intelligence, and talent. He lets Veronica make her own decisions but offers her advice and opportunities. Plus, he encourages Vee to make coffee. She clearly can't make iced tea correctly if she thinks the secret is not boiling the water.
ALL ABOUT VEE is available now, as is Purtill's first novel LOVE, MEG. Find out more at her official website, MySpace, or blog. The first time I visited her blog, I noticed she makes legwarmers. I e-mailed her asking about price, and she agreed to send me a pair in return for a review. Yes, this review is favorable, no, it is not because of the adorable legwarmers. If it was I wouldn't make the trade public. ^_~
They go over my knees - I'm wearing them nice and slouchy in the photo.