Best friends Cate, Lauren, Olivia and Max are overworked and underpaid assistants to some of the most powerful people in the entertainment industries. As they are passed over for promotions and the toxic office environments reach a breaking point, the women start an anonymous blog detailing their experiences, which snowballs into hundreds of others coming forward with stories of their own.
Smile and Look Pretty captures the tangle of anxiety-ridden thoughts that hang heavy over women during and after misogynistic faux pas. Pellegrino uses a show-don’t-tell style that trusts her audience to recognize and relate to the situations she describes. It even passes the Bechdel test, although more narrowly than expected. But you can’t affect change in the patriarchy without discussing its key players. This feminist novel possesses the nuance to acknowledge both the men who ally themselves with women, and the women who perpetuate misogyny and hierarchical hogwash. Smile and Look Pretty is an affirmation to those who can relate to Cate, Max, Olivia and Lauren, as well as a girl-power rallying cry. In a sea of media in which men are either saviors or villains, and women are their prize, this novel provides a life raft. Filled with wit, humor and snark, if you liked A Promising Young Woman, you’ll enjoy Smile and Look Pretty.
What I also loved was how Pellegrino addressed this idea of being happy for someone else getting the opportunities you deserve while also feeling like you failed because of that opportunity being passed on to said person. It’s hard to be happy for others when you’re struggling yourself and yes, it makes you feel really bad about yourself but it’s a valid feeling and we should be more open about that in real life ... Smile and Look Pretty oscillates between POVs of the four friends...and I loved how we got to see the different dynamic of every single one of them ... Every story brings something else into focus and there’s so much to admire about them—from their tenacity to their moral strength and their fierceness, I couldn’t pick a favourite even if I tried ... Ultimately cathartic, Pellegrino’s debut is a hard-hitting exposé of toxic workplaces and the horrors women are faced with on the daily.
I love the feminism and girl power messages, and the characters were so unique and cool. I was hooked on the story and it gave me all the feels. I laughed out loud, teared up, and smiled while reading. This is such a great debut novel! I was a little confused when differentiating between four main characters at first but I enjoyed their different perspectives and personalities. The story and dialogue were a little cheesy at times but I didn’t mind it. Overall, I really enjoyed this and definitely recommend it!