Hollywood glamour, drugs, abuse, trauma and paparazzi – these are things we hear about and see on TV and online. In Ella Berman’s debut novel “The Comeback,” we are immersed in that world through the fictional lens of actress Grace Turner. A star on the rise, 21-year-old Grace is a successful, beautiful, witty actress who was taken under the wing of highly regarded Hollywood director, Able Yorke, when she was a teenager. Behind her bubbly public persona, she is spiraling out of control, abusing drugs and alcohol; something dark and sinister has been happening that nobody seems to notice or care about. On the cusp of her first Golden Globe nomination at the start of awards season, she drops out of the limelight, fleeing to her parents’ home in Anaheim for a year.
Grace finally resurfaces, with the paparazzi following her, capturing her moves and plastering them all over magazines and social media, wondering if she will make a comeback or end up as a Hollywood cautionary tale. As readers delve deeper into the novel, it is revealed that Able began molesting and sexually abusing Grace as a young teen, a nightmare that continued for years and was glossed over by the facade of a phenomenal director-actress dynamic. As she returns to Hollywood and her former life, she struggles to repair damaged relationships and come to terms with what happened to her at the hands of Able.
Readers who are familiar with the #MeToo movement and the downfall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will see similarities between the stories of the survivors of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry and what Grace goes through in this book. In an author’s note, Berman asserts that she began writing this book before the stories of Weinstein’s history of mistreatment were made public.
“The Comeback” is the empowering story of a young woman confronting the demons and dark secrets that have been haunting her for years. The behind-the-scenes view of Hollywood and the rawness of her downward spiral and eventual resurgence makes for a compelling read. “The Comeback” was the August 2020 selection for TODAY’s “Read with Jenna” Book Club.