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The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder

2.83  ·  Rating details ·  985 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Recommended by NPR, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, New York Post, and Bustle.

A gripping memoir of friendship with a tragic twist—two childhood best friends diverge as young adults, one woman is brutally murdered and the other is determined to uncover the truth about her wild and seductive friend.

As girls growing up in rural New Jersey in the l
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Simon Schuster
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2.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  985 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
I felt like the author spent majority of the book bragging about being a childhood friend of the victim and justifying her value in their friendship. While reading this book, I also felt that the author was trying to be apart of something bigger that didn't involve her until she obsessively pushed her way into the witness stand; not only was the book repetitive but I found the author to be annoying.
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book-- gritty memoirs are my absolute favorite. Don't get me wrong, I did like it (3 stars = liked it), but it was not quite "there" for me. It seems like Murnick might have been better off waiting a bit longer to publish this, so that the trial had concluded. A major point of the book is how hard it is to accept things that happen, especially when one endures loss and then is expected/forced to move on without receiving closure. However, as it stands, it doesn't feel compr ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
I bought this book not knowing what to expect, therefore my mind was open to the author's viewpoint . I have now finished the book and I found it truly appalling to see how the author's parasitic approach to the death of this seemingly tragic girl found it's anchor in the early childhood friendship as some justification for writing this book. The author becomes unknowingly Ripleyesque in her obsession. In referring to the victim, Ashley Ellerin, as 'The Hot One' she denigrates her as a person in ...more
Elizabeth Wisker
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
An insufferable narrator combined with unignorable editorial mistakes. Not even a good hate-read.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
To be truthful, I skimmed most of the second half of the book because I was just done listening to the author whine about herself. This book was built on the premise that her best friend from childhood gets murdered and she is just so overcome with sadness and guilt that she has to go out and figure out who killed her. In reality, she has basically nothing to do with the case and pushes her way into the case when there's nothing she could offer. She has felt inadequate in comparison to her best ...more
Melissa Shapiro
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sorry but I don't need to hear about every single thought that crossed your mind for 15 or more years. Call me cruel but this was the most boring book I've read in a long time, and totally self-indulgent on the part of the author.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
I try my best not to leave negative reviews because I worry about tearing down someone's work (I know, I could never be a critic). But I have to agree with so many of the reviews. This memoir made me uncomfortable from middle to end. The beginning was great, and I wish she had focused on her memoir of female friendship (even if it meant the memoir were shorter) and her critique of the concept of the male gaze without trying so hard to turn this into a true crime book. It is not a true crime book ...more
Milli (MiracleMilliReads)
When reading a memoir, I feel like I have to connect with characters and author without having to try. It should be an instant connection just by reading a perfectly written story. Not only did I not feel that way, but I was so disoriented and confused throughout this entire read. I loved the story, the case, and the reasoning for her to go after the details of what really happened to the person she once had the most dearest relationship with.

This memoir is about the author and her childhood be
Sep 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Don't bother. It became frustratingly apparent early in the book that while the author and Ashley had been close as children, they had grown apart (Ashley moved away in high school). The author learns of Ashley's death in a newspaper article. They hadn't seen each other in at least more than a year (the chronology is fuzzy and imprecise.) She acknowledges they'd grown apart. It's clear that the author isn't even close enough to Ashley's family to talk to them.

With that as a backdrop, I found it
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. This will sound harsh, but I'm not sure the murder of this woman's childhood friend is that interesting to other people.
Irmak Ertuna-howison
Aug 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
if you are looking for a true crime this is NOT it. i would still read it if it wasn't so tedious and repetitive.
Lisa Fiyod
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Dull in every way. Weak.
Katie Robinson
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is definitely NOT just a true crime tale, more of a memoir about female friendship and grief. If you're looking for a gripping whodunit, this isn't exactly it. But, if you want to give it a chance, it's worth it. I found the perspectives on long (stemming from childhood) female friendship incredibly accurate; she put things into words that I've felt but never expressed. Her grieving process and the way she handles her best friend's murder remind me a little of Joan Didion's "The Year of Mag ...more
Jennifer (Jen's Page Turners)
Sooo if you know me, you know I'm obsessed with true crime. This book totally sounded up my alley. However, it fell a little short for me. The story was intriguing enough, especially having the background of the victim's (Ashley) life as a young adult. But it felt like there was some fluff in there.


Many thanks to Simon and Schuster/NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
This book is written by Ashley Ellerin's childhood friend. Ashley is famous for having briefly dated Ashton Kutcher and for being a victim of serial killer Michael Gargiulo. I was intrigued by what Carolyn had to offer but it wasn't really anything. At first I was intrested in the recounting of her childhood friendship with Ashley. I am around the same age and grew up in the same general location so it was a nostalgic trip for me. Z Cavaricci, I hadn't thought about those pants in years.

After th
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
The jacket copy for this makes it sound like a true crime account, but it ended up being more of a musing on childhood friendships and the ways they can fall apart and not get put back together. The thing is, given the circumstances it ends up feeling creepily voyeuristic (despite the author reaching out to them, the murdered girl's parents never respond, and I spent a lot of the book wondering how they must feel about this account). It has a few touching moments, but I'm baffled at the love it' ...more
Valerity (Val)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Liston
Nov 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: true-crime, read-2017
This was pretty bad. I remembered this crime, the girl who was murdered in the Hollywood Hills the night she was suppose to have had a date with Ashton Kutcher. I thought that he either was the murderer or he was an idiot..he said he went to pick up her and she did not answer the door although her car was in the driveway, the lights were on and there was red liquid stain in the hallway he could see through the window. Way to put two and two together, Ashton. But this was written by the victim's ...more
Patrice Jones
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have a lot of respect for this author. I don't know if I could tell the story of my childhood best friend's life and murder. And if I could, what lengths would I go to, to get the story? Even though this book started off slow, the desire to know more kept me going. After the first quarter of the book, the story picked up. The story of childhood friendship and how that can change as you get older really spoke to me.
I don't think the author learned why her friend was murdered, but she did her b
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
An unfortunately bland memoir. It felt like it was written because the author wanted to write a memoir, not because she had anything to say. The result is a book that feels like it's benefitting from the murder of a young woman. All true crime books require horrific acts to have taken place, but they usually offer more than just violence.

This is just a vague narration of a life cut short. It provides no details of life of the victim or the lives she touched, nor does it reflect on the justice s
Belinda Frisch
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Susannah Cahalan describes Carolyn Murnick’s The Hot One as “riveting” on the cover copy, and I can’t think of a more apt description. A memoir more than anything conventional True Crime, The Hot One spans the years from Carolyn’s childhood friendship with victim Ashley Ellerin to her untimely, violent death and beyond.

What happens when best friends drift apart? When you can’t take back whatever caused the rift? When you wonder who someone you were once inseparable from became in the year before
Feb 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bios-and-memoirs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it

Okay, so, I LIKED this book. The author has a funny, clipped way of writing that felt like just chatting, which I like, especially for a memoir. However, I get the sense that maybe she doesn’t even know what the book is actually trying to be. It’s about the murder of her friend, and the trial, and her journey through grief—but Christ on a cracker, there is so much unneeded exposition. I don’t need all the little details of your sex life or where you lost your virginity or why you felt l
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This is so in my wheelhouse, but. The author and Ashley Ellerin were best friends back in their school days, but eventually drifted apart. Murnick moved to New York City, successfully moving into a writing career; Ellerin moved to Los Angeles, where the party girl -- who spent weekends as a stripper in Vegas, settled into the fringe of celebrity culture. Most famously, she dated Ashton Kutcher. After Ellerin is murdered by a serial killer, Murdick immerses herself in the case and considers how s ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A lot of people seem to find this book exploitative and self-serving, and while I've made similar comments about similar books, I didn't find that to be my impression while reading this one. (Though I do get those of you who find the writer self-absorbed and bitchy. I mean, it's hard not to be at least a little self-absorbed when writing a memoir, but still.)

From my point of view, once you've had that sort of friendship where you can't tell where one of you ends and the other begins, it's hard t
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The Hot One wasn't that HOT. While it is a page turner you are basically just exploring what happens to many childhood friendships. People grow up and change often to the point where they have little in common but the past. That was the case with Carolyn and Ashley when Ashley was murdered in her LA apartment. This isn't a whodunit. We know whodunit. The book sort of fools you into thinking that Carolyn is going to find out things about the murder and shocking things about her childhood friend t ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a memoir about a friendship cut short, the surviving woman embroiled in conflicting feelings about the dead. Carolyn and Ashley were childhood friends in New Jersey, but drifted apart. In 2001 at age 22 Ashley was murdered gruesomely in Los Angeles, stabbed 47 times, while Carolyn was living and working in New York. Several years after the murder when a suspect is arrested Carolyn starts researching Ashley’s life and death. It’s an interesting book about female friendship, Carolyn consid ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
When are you the best of friends and when do you drift apart? What if you could have changed time? What could you have done differently? From childhood Carolyn Murnick and Ashley Ellerbin have been best friends. Ashley was a transplant from California to New Jersey and she and Carolyn connected. As teens , they drifted apart, and while Carolyn lived in NYC , Ashley drifted off to Hollywood and became embroiled in stripping and drugs.After Ashley is brutally murdered, Carolyn travels to Hollywood ...more
I'll be honest: partway through this book, I googled the murder victim's name and it turned out I knew all about the case (Ashton Kutcher's "ex-girlfriend" is the victim). So I skimmished the rest of the book. Before I googled, I was slightly put off by Murnick's voice as the surviving friend. She comes off as a self-involved narcissist and I usually love broken people! Anywho, not a bad book. I was really enjoying it before I spoiled it for myself, but once I knew what I knew, the wind in my sa ...more
Melissa Newhauser
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a slow read. Not really what I expected.
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Carolyn Murnick is the author of THE HOT ONE (Simon & Schuster, August 2017) and an editor at New York magazine. She received an Emerging Writer Fellowship from the Aspen Institute in 2014. Her personal essays have appeared in two anthologies: Before & After: Stories from New York and Lost & Found: Stories from New York. She lives in Brooklyn.
“There was silence and a new recognition of a perpetually searching quality within me that I had never fully acknowledged. That was it, wasn’t it? The thing that made it so difficult for me not to pick at the edges, the inability to let things be, to replace one anxiety with a new one as soon as the first one abated, to resist comforting platitudes like “Everything happens for a reason,” to ask the unanswerable “What if?’ ” and ‘Why?’ over and over again, even on the sunniest of days. That was what made me not be able to let go of the unfairness of what had happened to Ashley. That was who” 0 likes
“I did believe everyone with even a little self-awareness was holding on to some wound or another somewhere, be it physical or emotional or both, and the trick of adulthood was learning to live alongside all that.” 0 likes
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