Overexposed by Susan Shapiro

Susan Shapiro, a New School professor since 1993, instructs students to live the “least secretive life you can.” Her latest comic novel, Overexposed does this for her characters and reads like a tell-all expose.

Rachel Solomon strives to make a name for herself in the Manhattan’s competitive world of photography. Fresh out of graduate school she scores a big job as an administrative assistant and from that point on we cannot help but root for this vivacious and bold character. Her journey is fueled by the city’s relentless energy, and the refusal of our heroine to give up and let it all go down the tubes holds the reader enamored in her witty prose and problems. Rachel’s family is hell-bent on undermining her stream of successes, and equally as reluctant to support her through her traumas and failures.

Rachel spends her life running from and avoiding the person her family expects her to be. Suddenly that role is filled like a vacant job when her best friend, Elizabeth, swoops in from the east coast and infiltrates her Midwestern roots.  Elizabeth becomes the daughter her parents always wanted – making it even harder for Rachel as she struggles with keeping the peace while working towards building a name for herself on the east coast.

Shapiro dips us into a mire of failed romance as Rachel learns her heart’s sentiment is neither sticky sweet nor stolid.  Each relationship lends more depth to her rich character.  The scenes are painted with such enthusiastic alacrity that we find ourselves transported; and every painful or hysterically funny moment helps us to briefly exist in Rachel’s high-heeled shoes.

Although Overexposed is Susan Shapiro’s 7th book in 7 years, this one holds a special place in her heart. “This book is my favorite because it’s the first book I ever tried to write, and I never gave up on it.  Overexposed fits my freelance and teaching philosophy of no never means no. It means rewrite and make it better, resubmit to someone nicer.” She explains “After 13 years, instead of a book launch, I gave it a book mitzvah.” All joking aside, this page turner is definitely worth the wait.

Reviewed By Jenni G.