Grace Turner was a rising Hollywood star, a beautiful actor taken under the wing of legendary director and writer Able Yorke. As her fame grows, so does Able’s control over her. He molds her into the perfect starlet, but behind the scenes, his growing manipulation and verbal abuse spiral into something even darker.
“He wanted Marilyn without the overdose, Winona without the shoplifting, Gwyneth without the health shit,” Grace explains in the novel. “I was untouchable, unstoppable, hurtling down a path to immortality so rapidly, so immaculately, that not one person stopped to question how it all worked so well, a fortysomething man and a teenager being so inextricably linked.”
By the time she’s 21, Grace is addicted to vodka and pills. On the eve of her first awards season, Grace steps away from the spotlight, fleeing first to her parents’ home in unfashionable Anaheim, California, then to a moldy Malibu beach house in the shadow of Able’s home. The paparazzi flock to capture her dazed, disheveled appearance as she adjusts to living on her own for the first time in her life. A trip to the gas station to buy food—dill-flavored potato chips, a pack of Babybel cheese, water and a slice of pizza (she doesn’t know how to cook)—is like throwing bread crumbs to seagulls. Soon photos of her are plastered across gossip websites, and Grace is at a crossroads: Will she be a Hollywood cautionary tale, or a comeback story?
The similarities to Harvey Weinstein are inescapable, but in an author’s note, Ella Berman writes that she began the novel months before the New York Times and The New Yorker began publishing bombshell revelations about the disgraced megaproducer’s history of mistreatment and sexual assault. The Comeback flirts with but never devolves into a formulaic revenge plot, which would cheapen what turns out to be a surprising and satisfying story. First-time novelist Berman deftly captures the entertainment industry in all its fickleness and offers a complex, compassionate portrait of the lasting scars of abuse and trauma.