Growing up Beautiful by Lori Jones

Publication Date: November 23, 2011


lj_growing_up_beautifulIt’s 1986 and Joanne, Casey and Star are new models heading to Milan to start their careers. Joanne is looking to escape her life of wealth and duty, Casey is looking for some fun, and Star wants to better her position in life and to provide for a mother who is over the edge. Will these new models find what they’re looking for or will they find that modeling is not anything they thought it would be?


Lori Jones was a working model herself in the 1980s. She worked internationally and graced the cover of Kool and the Gang’s album “Ladies’ Night.” This is a woman who knows of what she talks about because she has knowledge of the less than glamorous side of modeling life that enthralls readers. We see a bit of the cruelty and pressure on shows like America’s Next Top Model (more so on the show’s international versions), but Jones lays it out for us in graphic detail—the drugs, the sex, the pressure to be thin and competitive on an international stage—the best of the best. It’s all about who you know, who you sleep with and the kind of drugs you can do to keep you where you need to be.

Readers looking for a how-to will find the characters that Jones presents crass and demeaning. People who have read the 1980s and lived the 1980s will find them true to life. There is a delicious “Last Days of Disco” feeling to this story. Jones’s characters are very complex. They each have their own goals, hidden desires and insecurities, and Jones conveys those quirks beautifully. The characters are distinct in the sense that if a reader was given dialogue from each, they would easily pick out the speakers.

The subject matter is raw, as would be expected of this sort of the story set in the 1980s. The narrative flows easily between the three main characters leading readers to become invested in their experiences. There are story lines left unresolved but in a way, very typical of this sort of period fiction—the age of true excess. In accordance with the excess [easyazon-link asin=”1467977470″ locale=”us”]Growing Up Beautiful: A Novel About Three Models in Milan[/easyazon-link] is a fast-moving story, which gives readers insight into a field not much talked about in its stripped-down light. I found Star’s story the most compelling. She was a poor girl in a bad situation looking for a way out. What may have seemed the golden opportunity doesn’t turn out as she thought it might. Jones’s tale will cause any prospective model to think twice as even now we get hints that some of the pressures exist. As the tale of a job in the 1980s, it was a truly interesting read.

If you are interested in fiction of the 1980s or stories of realistic struggle, this may be the novel for you. [easyazon-link asin=”1467977470″ locale=”us”]Growing Up Beautiful: A Novel About Three Models in Milan[/easyazon-link] is the first novel by Lori Jones.

Read an excerpt and buy Growing up Beautiful by Lori Jones on:

Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.Amazon Canada

For more information about Lori Jones and her work, visit her website. You can connect with her on Goodreads and @growinguppretty.

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