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The paper wasp
2019
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Summary
An electrifying debut novel from the acclaimed author ofThe Wonder Garden,The Paper Wasp is a riveting knife-edge story of two women's dark friendship of twisted ambition set against the backdrop of contemporary Hollywood

In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden.

When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she is surprised and warmed that Elise still considers her not only a friend but a brilliant storyteller and true artist. Elise's unexpected faith in Abby reignites in her a dormant hunger, and when Elise offhandedly tells Abby to look her up if she's ever in LA, Abby soon arrives on her doorstep. There, Abby discovers that although Elise is flourishing professionally, behind her glossy magazine veneer she is lonely and disillusioned. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise's world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise, the Rhizome, and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends--until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.

The Paper Wasp is a thrilling, unexpected journey into the psyche and imagination of a woman determined to fulfill her destiny from one of our most unique and incisive writers.

Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
In the lead-up to their Michigan high-school reunion, it's clear that artist and grocery clerk Abby has experienced dark times in the intervening 10 years, while her girlhood best-friend Elise adorns glossy pages as a Hollywood starlet. Despite their years apart, Elise tells Abby at the reunion that she must come visit her, which is all the encouragement Abby needs to purchase a one-way ticket on her parents' credit card. In Elise's new Malibu dream home, the old friends revisit the youthful passion neither has abandoned for Perren, an auteur whose holistic approach to filmmaking blurs boundaries between the alert and unconscious mind and whose next film Elise hopes to be in. Abby is a roiling mix of bold self-belief and traumatic self-loathing. Battling demons of her own, Elise smoothes Abby's rough edges with warmth and flattery until a relationship divides them, and Abby plans a score-settling mission. Light on plot propulsion and heavy on dream-retelling, Acampora's first novel following the acclaimed story collection, The Wonder Garden (2015), will appeal to fans of character-driven psychodramas.--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2019 Booklist
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