*I was provided an advance copy of “Everybody Rise” for my honest review through St. Martin’s Press. Opinions are 100% my own.
Today marks the official end of summer as we teachers know it. It’s the first day of school and it seems as though everyone is in a frenzy to hold on to those last precious bits of this whimsical season called ‘summertime’.
However, unbeknownst to the school calendar, summer hasn’t officially ended yet. Yes, that’s right folks–we have [officially] until September 23rd to celebrate the greatest season known to man. And to that end–I plan to celebrate.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate the hottest season of the year definitely would have to include lounging around the pool or the beach while reading an indulgent book. This summer, I had the pleasure of knocking a few down, and one in particular struck my fancy as of late.
“Everybody Rise” by Stephanie Clifford– a Loeb-award winning New York Times reporter–has made its debut last week with a bang. The book was named one of the 12 Best Summer Books in People Magazine and film rights have already been picked up by the producer of The Devil Wears Prada! With plot twists & social-climbing wannabes reminiscent of “Gossip Girl”, the book takes an adult leap into a realm of reality all-to-familiar to the majority of us affected in some way by the economic downturn almost a decade ago.
Taking place on the island of Manhattan in 2006, protagonist Evelyn Beegan tries desperately to find her place among the city’s elitist socialites and Wall Street hungry businessmen. Unlike its predecessors, the book finds ways to make you laugh, wince, cheer at the same time.
Following the plot throughout Evelyn’s tangled web of lies she creates due to her new-found quest to “drink the Koolaid”, she remains surprisingly relatable. With an awkward up-and-coming blue collar family background, Evelyn realizes that she must feign much of her history in order for members of the highest social rank to notice her.
With a job many people would dream of [recruiting manager for “People Like Us”–a Facebook for elitist members of society], Evelyn forces herself to get into the midst of the lives of those she once didn’t care to understand. I found it particularly hilarious when I read about her perspective on everyone wearing “whale belts” and how she finally had one of her own. Knowing she was referring to the brand Vineyard Vines, I laughed picturing just how ridiculous that may look to outsiders who normally don’t sport that particular type of “attire”.
Comments like these and “advice” her mother “Babs” gives her about what to wear, how to act, who to talk to while desperately trying to get her daughter to the next rung of the social ladder really made me laugh when I thought of just how similar so many people are, especially when going through high school. Although most realize that social climbing often does not parlay into a necessarily fulfilling life, some never stop thinking that the “grass may be greener on the other side”.
Like many others, I was plagued with this notion in my younger years as well–especially when it came to dressing. From sporting brands like A&F, Hollister, and Ralph Lauren to avoiding certain other brands, it became clear that I wasn’t dressing particularly for myself. Like Evelyn, I had become obsessed with dressing to fit in.
After several years and many personal struggles, I was able to come to the freeing realization that fitting in with a particular social class or way of life did nothing but hold me back from infinite possibilities meant for me alone.
Shortly after quitting a job in retail that brought this “dressing for others” theory to a screeching halt, I felt as if spreading the word to others was something I was meant to do. As cheesy as it sounds, I thought that maybe if I spoke to young women who were the same age as I was when I felt the pressure to fit in, and let them know–maybe I could save them from some unnecessary personal torment in the future.
About a year later, I started Pop of Style–mainly as a way to prove to myself and others that you can follow trends that WORK for YOUR body, budget, and personal style without falling victim to what you THINK you should wear to fit in, et cetera.
Starting out as a “thrifting” blogger, I took photos in front of my closet door using items I’d found on clearance or in local secondhand shops. This process put me out of my comfort zone while I frantically researched what may work for my body while collecting pieces that spoke to my individual style. Over time, I developed a penchant for finding confidence in my own style. At this point, I felt that I wanted to spread the confidence to others.
The next year, I was asked to be a speaker for the Girls World Expo where I would share styling tips and tricks while sharing a message of confidence without being brand-obsessed. My primary audience? 13-18 year olds. I felt relieved as I shared my story of former angst and inner torment all due to my attempts to fulfill a tall order that could never be filled. Since then, I’ve spoken at colleges, fashion shows, and local events to share the message that you can be yourself and express yourself through fashion in a way that doesn’t have to conform with specific upper-crust social norms.
This book, while having the added bonus of being entertaining, was an eye-opener in several ways. The quest to “better yourself”, if attacked with the wrong intentions, could have effects that are catastrophic, so we need to take heed of Clifford’s message and just simply be who we are–no excuses.
While we like to think that as we get older, the pressures to climb the ladder of social hierarchy will lessen, they often never do. In this money and status-obsessed culture we live in, people can destroy themselves trying desperately to be someone they could never be. The saddest part is that while striving to fulfill this dream; they lose sight of their true calling.
I would definitely recommend reading this book, it’s a quick read and although it may start out on the slow side–the pace quickens after the first two chapters and it’s worth it.
Read an excerpt here!
Purchase the book here
Also, I’m giving away a copy to one lucky gal! Just enter by commenting below with your name and email 🙂
Good luck! Open to U.S. residents only 🙂
Ends September 4th 12am EST.
Check out Perfect End of Summer Reads
by Missy Dawn at Mode