Honeymoon * Susan Elizabeth Phillips

honey-moon-susan-elizabeth-phillips-paperback-cover-artAfter the dreary “Host” from Stephanie Meyer, I felt like laughing again so I picked up a book from 1993 written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I read (or mostly listened to it being read by Anna Fields in my car) the previous novels called “Hot Shot” with the troubles of a woman in a start-up business with electronics and another one from the post-civil war era of a mismatched romance between a Yankee and a Confederate called “Just Imagine“.

I knew what I was in for – a thrill ride, well written and full of humour and I was not disappointed.

Honey Jane Moon is only 16 but has been her family’s commanding force for years when she decides to drive her pretty cousin Chantal Booker from South Carolina to California to audition for TV’s Dash Coogan Show. Dash, “the last of America’s movie cowboy heroes” is indeed impressed–but by Honey, whom he picks to play his daughter. Although suddenly tossed into life’s fast lane, Honey still wants just what she always wanted: a close-knit family and some affection. Her South Carolina kin live with her, but their closeness resembles the adhesion of leeches. Dash, who learned about relationships from his ex-wives, turns a cold shoulder to Honey, who desperately needs him to be a real-life father figure, while Eric Dillon, Honey’s “dark, sullen, and gorgeous” co-star, stomps on the puppy love she has to offer. Yet it is only through their complicated relationships that Honey, Dash and Eric can finally exorcise their personal demons.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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A great roller coaster makes you find God when you ride it.

It all started with a prayer to Walt Disney to save an amusement park. The only one in South Carolina offering “The Black Thunder” rollercoaster ride, the only thing that made little Honey Jane Moon believe in God again after the death of her mother. Taken in by her aunt, she starts taking care of the park, her new mother and sister Chantal – both of them living parasitic lifestyles that will continue throughout the book.

Chantal: But I don't want to work, Honey....
Chantal: But I don’t want to work, Honey….

Chantal is a whiny character you are not bound to forget. Beautiful but lazy and with an attraction to any man that happened to be nearby, her only goal in life was to become a beauty stylist and marry Burt Reynolds. She is not fond of working and lets her cousin do all the work.

Honey, not wanting to rely on the faint possibility of Disney buying her park and getting them out of poverty, wants Chantal to audition for a pageant and go to an audition in Hollywood for a part in a new TV show.

“I think you have finally lost what’s left of your mind, Honey Jane Moon,” Chantal said. “That truck couldn’t make it to the state line, let alone all the way to California.” The battered old pickup that stood near Sophie’s trailer was the only vehicle left in the park. The body had once been red, but it had been patched with gray putty so many times that little of its original paint job remained. Because Honey was worried about exactly the same thing, she turned on Chantal.

“You’re never gonna get anywhere in life if you keep being such a negative thinker. You’ve got to have a positive attitude toward the challenges life throws at you. Besides, Buck just put in a new alternator. Now load that suitcase in the back while I try one more time to talk to Sophie.”

“But Honey, I don’t want to go to California.”

Honey ignored the whine in her cousin’s voice. “That’s just too bad, ’cause you’re going. Get in that truck and wait for me.”

This type of wilful approach is what got Honey to California in four days with a few blown tires and an dopey hitch-hiker (which catches Chantal’s eyes). Honey is not overly impressed with him but deems him harmless enough to come on board as long as he can drive.

She had no intention of endangering Chantal by picking up a pervert, so she studied him carefully. He was in his early twenties, a pleasant-faced boy with shaggy brown hair, a scraggly mustache, and sleepy eyes. His chin was a little weak, but she decided that she couldn’t fault him for something that might be more of a reflection of his ancestors than his character.

b990a0a167c8b9190db548c380d690c8When reaching the audition, Chantal blows it by being too nervous and Honey goes into a fit as she deemed it not fair – all her hopes shattered only after 5 minutes. Her anger sparks the attention of the main show lead, Dash, a recovering alcoholic who wants to reboot his career as a sitcom cowboy dad. Honey is just what he was looking for.

“The concept doesn’t work. That cornball plot about a second marriage isn’t cutting it because the audience is never going to understand why the stuck-up city lady and the cowboy got married in the first place. And nobody in the world will believe any of those beauty queens you brought in to audition is really my daughter. You know as well as I do that I’m no Lawrence Olivier. I play myself on the screen. It’s what people expect. Those girls and I don’t fit together.”

And this is how Honey ends up as a child star. Even though she was only 16, she was small for her frame and ends up playing a 13year old with a dog-bowl hair-cut. Dash is her on-set dad and she sees in him the parent she never had. Fame starts coming as the show proves a big hit but Honey’s personal life goes south. Her entire family moves in with her and none of them do any work. She cooks for them, grabs cigarettes for her mother, takes care of all of them except herself.

And she is lacking the most basic of human needs – she is not feeling loved. When turning to her on-set dad for affection, Dash shooed her away. Eric, her on-set brother, sees too much of his past in her to let her come near and so Honey finds herself drifting in a sea of loneliness.

To draw attention to herself, she starts acting out and being a little bitch on the set. Everybody starts avoiding her more, thus making her feel more isolated and abandoned.

This book isn’t funny at all, it’s very serious but that’s the good part of this book. It opens your emotions, it gives you a new perspective and outlook on life. nothing in life is easy, and it has tons of struggles but you just have to keep moving forward. There is so much symbolism in it, and especially when it comes to hope. You have to keep moving in life and you can’t unless you have hope and determination.  Honey goes through a lot and you see the struggles of a young girl who gets pushed around in the world.

When she does find happiness, it gets snatched away. There is a lot of darkness to this book, but the fact is there is darkness in reality – you can’t throw away this book because you can’t handle the touchy subjects.

Rags-to-riches story of a child star who falls in love with both her co-stars.
Rags-to-riches story of a child star who falls in love with both her co-stars.

I won’t spoil the book too much for who wants to read it but I must say one thing – most of the developments, if I think really hard, I think I saw at least two coming. But the others were still very unexpected.

He shook his head and chuckled. “I’ve got to tell you, Honey, that in all my life I can’t ever remember meeting anybody—male or female—who was a worse judge of character than you are.”

She bristled.

“That’s a terrible thing to say. And it’s not true.”

“It’s true all right. The most competent people on the crew are the ones you give the most trouble to, and it’s not just the crew, either. You only seem to attach yourself to people with character faults a mile wide. The best people are the ones you turn your back on.”

 

The last portion of the book was very emotional and I was sobby for lots of it so keep your tissues near. The characters are complete. I kept wanting to give Honey a big hug and find her a therapist. So many people in this book could have used some major couch time. The true terror and great romances followed the ups and downs of the roller coaster perfectly.

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