Reviews

Reviews of Starry Night

“A beautiful, bittersweet story of love and all its dangers told in a way you will savor. Wren’s opulent New York City life is precocious and sophisticated, but her confessional, self-deprecating voice and raw emotion draw you in close. Reading Starry Night is like being out with a boy you just met and like very much and you’re supposed to be home in bed, but the thought of what might happen next is so beguiling, you don’t want it to end.”

- Cecily von Ziegesar, author of Gossip Girl

“[An] authentic look at teen love and betrayal that will entertain and touch readers.”

“An actor and memoirist’s debut novel for teens explores the exhilaration—and heartbreak—of passionate first love. Fifteen-year-old Wren attends a life-changing party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (her father is its director), where she connects with her older brother’s new friend, the charismatic, talented musician Nolan. Though they’ve just met, the two feel a magical connection and slip away to another dance party with Nolan’s friends, ruining Wren’s borrowed designer gown and upsetting Wren’s parents, who promptly ground her. Smitten Wren persists in seeing Nolan, despite her parents’ wishes. Gillies captures the impulsive nature of teen love and its consequences along with nicely detailed secondary characters (little sister Dinah’s a cutie with her own cooking show; Wren’s parents draw sympathy with their real-time reactions to Wren’s relationship). Authentically depicted mother-daughter clashes allow readers to empathize with besotted Wren and outraged Nan—especially when Wren abruptly abandons long-cherished dreams of attending an art program in France to be near Nolan. Occasionally, amateurish moments disrupt (some dialogue sounds stilted; some transitions are announced at chapter beginnings). Still, readers willing to overlook such moments will find themselves engaged by Wren and her headlong dash into love; the lack of tidy happy endings underscores the grittily real feeling of the story’s emotional affairs. An imperfect but authentic look at teen love and betrayal that will entertain and touch readers.”

- Kirkus Reviews

“The conversational style will give readers the feeling that the protagonist is a close friend sharing her deepest secrets.”

- School Library Journal

Reviews of a year and six seconds

“With the same self-effacing prose found in her debut, Gillies describes her journey from the pain of lost love to the land of the living with humor and compassion… Readers will cheer along with the author, whose heart overflows in the conclusion of this enduring story of life after love.”

- Kirkus Reviews

“So charmed, so enamored was I by this tale of love lost and found that I would have sat down to lavish it with praise the minute I put the book down, but I was weeping too hard. We all want to believe in second chances, in broken hearts mended, and at its core, this is a book about that kind of hope. Brava.”

- Deborah Copaken Kogan, author of Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War and Hell Is Other Parents: And Other Tales of Maternal Combustion

“Isabel Gillies’ sheer honesty is a breath of fresh air, and this pained, hopeful, and sweet account of life after divorce will keep you reading long after you should have gone to bed.”

- Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher

“Undoubtedly there are worse things in life than having to set up post-divorce camp in your parents’ apartment, as Gillies discovers in this engaging memoir, a follow-up to 2009’s Happens Every Day. Her observations about single motherhood are sharper now, and she charms while describing her precarious perch on the higher rungs of the Manhattan social ladder (with only $524 in the bank and borrowed shoes for a first date). When love comes her way, Gillies is shrewd enough not to drift into fantasyland: She knows that she’s holding her golden new life together with a mysterious glue made from love, persistence, and plain old good luck.”

- Elaina Richardson, More magazine

Reviews of Happens Every Day

“It’s a surgical reconstruction of her marriage’s sudden collapse, and it’s utterly honest and painful. It’s a tart book, a universal book, which is to say completely human, and eminently worth reading for both men and women.”

- Palm Beach Post

“Happens Every Day, by Isabel Gillies, is a happy book about a sad story … [It] reads like an intimate conversation with a lifelong friend. As Isabel’s marriage dissolves, the reader is drawn into scenes of anger, hopefulness and self-doubt that anyone who has known heartbreak can relate to. For a story about the tragedy of a failed marriage, Happens Every Day is enlightening and uplifting, devoid of bitterness and resentment, and reflective of a woman who has borne an immense burden and emerged victorious.”

- St. Petersburg Times

“What a strange and wonderful surprise: a gorgeous, funny, exuberant book about the disastrous end of a marriage. A loss like Gillies’s might happen all the time, but it’s rarely met with the passion, compassion, energy, and warmth that suffuse every page. With charming candor, she lays bare her sorrow and her joys, and finds a true — and instructive — talent for transformation and happiness.”

- Maile Meloy, author of Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter

“A smart, rueful memoir of love, betrayal, and survival.”

- O: The Oprah Magazine