Book Review: All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church

All the Beautiful Girls
Cover art is copyright of Ballantine Books

If you follow my blog or my Instagram page, then you probably know how much I love reading books set in the Golden Age of Hollywood. By the Golden Age, I’m referring to the period of the 1930s to the 1960s. There is just something I love about being transported back to a time when Hollywood and the movies were truly magical. So when I read the synopsis of All the Beautiful Girls, I jumped at the chance to read it. While not set in Hollywood (it largely takes place in Las Vegas during the 1960s) it still had that allure of the early days of entertainment out west. All the Beautiful Girls is the story of Lily Decker, or as she becomes known in Las Vegas, Ruby Wilde. I couldn’t put this book down.

I received a copy of All the Beautiful Girls from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and to be perfectly honest, I loved it. I was drawn right into Lily’s story. The early chapters are a bit depressing to read but I still couldn’t put the book down. Lily suffers a lot as a child, after losing her entire family in a tragic accident and being taken in by a distant aunt and cruel uncle (not a spoiler – this is how the book opens). But she finds solace in the most unlikely of friendships – with the only other person who could understand what she’s been through, the only other person whose life was changed forever the night of the accident. While sad at times, Lily’s story is truly one of survival. She endures a lonely childhood yet learns to love and express herself through dance classes. It is her love of dancing that ultimately lands her a long way from the Midwest in Las Vegas.

Once in Vegas, Lily decides a fresh start is in order and leaves the name Lily behind. What follows is quite an adventure for Ruby Wilde. When I wasn’t reading this book, I found myself thinking about it. I was anxious to keep reading Ruby’s story. I wanted to know what happened to her and found myself both rooting for her and wanting to slap some sense into her all at once. I think this would be a great book to pick up for a long plane ride or a day by the beach or pool because once you start reading her story, you won’t want to stop until you know how it all turns out.

The characters, as unlikable as some were, were beautifully human. They were flawed and filled with emotion. The themes of learning to be independent as well as learning to rely on and trust others were both evident in this book. All in all, I found Lily to be one hell of a woman – strong yet vulnerable, intelligent yet perfectly capable of making stupid choices. I cheered for her the whole book.


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