Growing Up Hollywood is a collection of short stories that tell the life of one family in 1960’s California. It starts with a young love story, Mia and Red’s meeting and infatuation. We are shown their marriage announcement then the birth announcement of their two daughters. It’s heart warming and exciting to see how this young couple will turn out. Yet the novel still maintains an air of mystery and uneasiness.
Soon, we are witnessing the family through the eyes of their two young girls, Gracie and Anna. With an innocence only a child can maintain, we see their parents fighting while their marriage seems to crumble.
The two girls are growing up in Hollywood, which is not the glamorous, picture perfect utopia the movies would have us believe. There is a seedy, dirty and sometimes very dangerous underbelly to the façade which is captured perfectly within the stories.
It was fascinating to read some of the adult situations through the eyes of kids. For instance, the girls tell stories of the police taking their father away, but we piece together why by observing alcoholism, domestic violence and more through the description of children who are unaware of the brevity of the situation. We read some very unsettling and sometimes disturbing circumstances the innocent children are subjected to because of the lack of care by their parents.
At times my heart broke for the two sisters, who did not understand why terrible things were happening to them. Yet, I could not stop reading, hoping and praying for a “happy ending”.
I highly recommend this to adult readers, especially those who may have had a rough upbringing themselves.