Abby's still lives with her parents in Michigan. At a school reunion she re-connects with her best friend Elise, who is now a rising Hollywood star. When Elise invites Abby to moves to Los Angeles to become her personal assistant, Abby immediately takes the job. But the more intimately Abby becomes intertwined with Elise’s life, the more she realizes how insecure and unstable her friend truly is. Meanwhile, Abby’s dreams grow more and more bizarre, making it difficult for her to distinguish them from reality, with eventually catastrophic results.
The Paper Wasp is...hypnotic and sensual ... Acampora’s prose has a seductive, pearlescent allure, even when she’s addressing doomed friendships, friends who can never live up to our expectations, friends who betray ... [Acampora] come[s] right out and say[s] certain things that many of us wouldn’t dare speak aloud: Women aren’t automatically great just because we’re women. Sometimes, in fact, we’re dreadful.
... gripping ... A Ripley-esque novel that loses the plot in the final quarter, it is nonetheless a decent bet for readers looking for a well-written page-turner ... The awkwardness of Abby arriving uninvited is beautifully written by Acampora, as is the conniving, convincing way she makes herself indispensable to Elise. Directing the story to her former friend, Abby is creepy and compelling from the outset, an underdog voice that many will root for ... Acampora writes about the subject of female friendship with nuance ... Though The Paper Wasp turns highly fictional, and somewhat ludicrous, in the end, the hard truths and insights that are notable in Acampora’s short fiction enliven the journey along the way. Meaty topics underpinning the story – art, ambition, class, power – are thoughtfully explored and an arch eye is cast over life in the Hollywood bubble ... Where the book falls down is in its subplot involving the Rhizome, and its leader Perren. Initially intriguing Abby’s sessions with Rhizome practitioner Telo are too vague and nonsensical to hold our interest ... a rushed and unsatisfying end.
A Paper Wasp almost dares readers to see how long they can occupy Abby’s truly dark and tormented mind ... If A Paper Wasp were following a more cliché or expected route, one might expect Abby to ultimately usurp her friend’s position in the movie industry, leading to a tale of sisterhood turned to professional and romantic rivalry. But Acampora is true to her characters ... A Paper Wasp is a dark fable on the nature of friendship, fame, and the way dreams can influence our waking life.