Bookworm: Life of a party crasher; kids and losing a pet

Terri Schlichenmeyer

“Uninvited: Confessions of a Hollywood Party Crasher”

  • By Adrian Maher
  • c. 2020, Chicago Review Press
  • $16.99, $22.99 Canada 304 pages

R.S.V.P., regrets only. Oh, but you’ll be there. This soiree, this little event, this unabashed blow-out is something you wouldn’t dream of missing. You won’t even be late because this has been on your calendar for weeks and weeks. As in “Uninvited” by Adrian Maher, wild elephants couldn’t keep you away.

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Adrian Maher had ample reason for being depressed. In a short time, he lost his father, mother, best college chum, his job, his girlfriend, and his home. He hit bottom, sleeping most of the time – until one day, he remembered a man he’d met while working as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, a man who made pocket-change selling information about Hollywood parties, exclusive charity events, and invitation-only grand openings. There was an entire sub-culture in southern California, one that crashed parties as a hobby, and to Maher, that sounded like fun.

“Uninvited: Confessions of a Hollywood Party Crasher” author Adrian Maher.

Life as a “self-inviter” is one that’s never the same on any two days. It means having a bag full of literal tricks in the trunk of your car: wigs, fakeable passes, changeable lanyards, wristbands of every possible color, and black aprons to use as disguise. It might mean dropping from a branch over a hedge one afternoon and lying to a front-desk greeter later that evening. It requires quick-thinking and, because it’s basically an issue of trespassing and maybe theft, it could require bail.

For Maher and a revolving cast of mayhem makers, that’s all in a days’ sneak. A free meal, an open bar, and a swag bag are often what he takes away physically. Hobnobbing with the stars and peeking into lavish homes, sumptuous grounds, and exclusive compounds are the icing on the designer cake.

But it’s not all (free) beer and skittles. Eventually, the rich food starts to take its toll. The constant threat of getting caught feels like too much hassle. Yes, the rich live different lives than the rest of us, and it’s a lot of work to try to chase them.

“Uninvited: Confessions of a Hollywood Party Crasher” by Adrian Maher.

Already, you’ve got plans for the rest of the year and maybe beyond: you’ll eat, drink, and be merry for the next six weeks. Read “Uninvited,” and you’ll laugh, too.

With a bit of “Catch Me If You Can” derring-do, author Adrian Maher spins tales of action and modern mischief that would feel just right tucked in the middle of a supermarket tabloid. And yet, there’s nothing salacious inside this book, no star-scandal, no divorce-drama, and no Hollywood brats; indeed, the stars behave in this book while the main subjects – Maher and his cohorts – are the ones who caper.

That leaves readers with a look at privilege and wealth, but from an angle that seems more uncommon. We’ll never steal into a star’s party or an exclusive enclave – Maher offers plenty of reasons why we shouldn’t – but we can surely be happy he did.

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For Hollywood star-watchers, this book is gold. It’s great, if you want modern adventure, too, or if you want something totally different. Read “Uninvited.” You won’t regret it.

“The End of Something Wonderful”

  • By Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by George Ermos
  • c. 2019, Sterling Children’s Books
  • $16.95, $22.95 Canada 32 pages

You’re really going to miss your little pet. He hasn’t been feeling well lately, and you know that the worst thing is coming soon. You’re not sure how you’ll act and you’re not sure what you’ll do when it happens, but in the new book “The End of Something Wonderful” by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by George Ermos, you’ll get some ideas.

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When something is dead, it means that it “was once alive but isn’t any longer.” Your something dead is loved very much, and you’re going to miss it a lot so maybe later, it would help to have a funeral in your back yard. Your something dead would’ve liked that, if you’d asked – but even if you didn’t, he knows how much you wish he was still around, though neither of you have the words to say so.

“The End of Something Wonderful” by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic.

First, you’ll want to find a box. A shoebox will probably work fine, and you may want to put some tissue, or a small piece of cloth inside for your something dead to lay on.

Next, you’ll need a hole in the ground. Ask a grown-up for help, especially if your something dead is “really big, like a hippopotamus or a narwhal.” Be sure not to bury something that’s not quite dead. That’s really rude.

At the funeral, it’s okay to talk about your something dead and how wonderful your friendship was. Sing some songs, if you feel like it; or don’t say anything at all, “hug that thought inside your heart ... ” and just cry. It’s all okay.

When all the words have been said and the thoughts have been thought, put the box in the ground, cover it up, and “bring on the flowers.” Then leave it alone because no something dead likes to be disturbed and besides, you’ll want to visit that burial spot now and then, to talk about the weather and things. And someday, maybe you’ll think about something wonderful again.

“The End of Something Wonderful” by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by George Ermos.

Although the first few pages of this book may seem a little on the light side in both word and illustration, adults know that there are times when you must smile through the tears when someone (or something) dies. But neither tone, story by author Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, nor the images by George Ermos make light of a serious subject; in fact, the truth is that “The End of Something Wonderful” is a book that teaches kids to grieve.

Even so, there are things this book is not. It’s not something to grab without thinking: Lucianovic doesn’t include cats or dogs in her narrative, and kids without proper back yards may feel left out. It’s not something to blithely read aloud; it needs appropriate adult guidance. It’s not sentimental, either, but it shows kids that it’s okay to cry, and move on.

For the child who needs that nudge, or for one that’ll soon be facing the inevitable, this is the book to have around. Parents of those kids know that “The End of Something Wonderful” is one you can’t miss.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.