Dear Dwayne, With Love
by Eliza Gordon
Wannabe actress Dani Steele’s résumé resembles a cautionary tale on how not to be famous. She’s pushing thirty and stuck in a dead-end insurance job, and her relationship status is holding at uncommitted. With unbearably perfect sisters and a mother who won’t let her forget it, Dani has two go-tos for consolation: maple scones and a blog in which she pours her heart out to her celebrity idol. He’s the man her father never was, no boyfriend will ever be—and not so impossible a dream as one might think. When Dani learns that he’s planning a fund-raising event where the winning amateur athlete gets a walk-on in his new film, she decides to trade pastries and self-doubt for running shoes and a sexy British trainer with adorable knees.
But when Dani’s plot takes an unexpected twist, she realizes that her happy ending might have to be improvised—and that proving herself to her idol isn’t half as important as proving something to herself.
Imagine the witch who gives Snow White the apple. Make her more than six feet tall. Braid the hairs growing from the mole. Give her the personality of Miss Gulch, the mean lady on the bike who yells at Dorothy’s aunt and uncle about little Toto. Boom. My boss. Joan the Crone.
Where are the real gigs, you know? Like tampon or feminine deodorant commercials? The residuals on those can be nuts—I knew a woman in LA who bought a house in the Hollywood Hills just from the residuals she earned on Massengill Douche ads. Sure, she was known as the Douche Lady, but she has an infinity pool and a pool boy named Sven. A clean vagina is no laughing matter.
My mother keeps sending me meal plans she finds online, designed specifically for people trying to conceive… I am really, really tired of beans and spinach. And I feel sorry for the other women sitting around me. So much farting.
I follow her to the Great Wall of Shoes… Susie talks me into two pairs: a zero-drop shoe for the gym (“ It will help you keep your balance, like being barefoot, when you’re squatting and deadlifting”— I have no idea what either of those things involve, but I’m guessing one might be for pooping and the other might be for carrying a corpse)…
I don’t even want kids. Georgette has three, and all she talks about is how her hair is falling out and she can’t poop alone and how her vagina has lost its pep. I don’t want my vagina to lose her pep. I have it on good authority my group health insurance won’t cover fixing that.
No time for doubts. Doubts are for cat tattoos and dubious marriages.
I giggle-snorted and smirked as I read this delightfully clever and deliciously amusing and quirky story. I was quickly drawn into this vibrantly humorous, entertaining, and engaging tale. The storyline was irreverently witty while also providing those occasional emotive heart-squeezes, and was simply brimming with oddly alluring and intriguing characters with my favorites being the Miraculously Beautiful Marco the personal trainer, and the soft-hearted and somewhat spineless heroine, Danielle Steele with an e, “Dani.” Dani’s eccentric and conspiracy-prone mother had named all three of her daughters after her favorite romance authors. Tucked into the narrative were frequent and unexpected tricks and treats to keep reeling the reader into this well-crafted and smartly written story.
Dani’s family was all kinds of peculiar with her mother belonging to a UFO group named Greys (Alien) Anatomy, and sold magic healing space wands and her own homegrown medicinal herb (unlicensed) to “her friends” and those seeking relief from pain. Despite her unusual childhood, Dani was a sweet and thoughtful friend and co-worker, although she lacked backbone and knew it. She was also unflinchingly snarky in her inner musings and when writing in the private online diary she had kept since middle school using an unpublished blog website with her missives generally consisting of unsent letters and imagined conversations with her childhood idol Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who had been her long-gone father’s favorite wrestler. But secrets often have a way of being revealed, with humorous results and uncomfortable and humiliating consequences.
I adored this amusing and cleverly crafted book from its very beginning to the gleefully satisfying end. Dani had transformed herself through setting a goal to meet her idol and despite several unforeseen setbacks, she had some major wins and a few tragic losses, with a boatload of humorous scenes, perceptive observations, and comically arched eyebrow lifts occurring in between. I will forever associate kittens on leashes, sports bras, and protein smoothies with this enticing and inventive tale, while I would never consider ever again drinking a kale smoothie as I agree with Dani; kale smoothies most certainly are the devil.
About the Author
Eliza Gordon has excellent taste in books, shoes, movies, and friends, and questionable sanity in the realm of love. Best leave that one alone.
In real life, she’s an editor, mom, wife, and bibliophile and proud parent of one very spoiled tuxedo cat. Eliza writes stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After; Jennifer Sommersby, her other self, writes YA and is repped by Daniel Lazar at Writers House.