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The Paper Wasp

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,614 ratings  ·  417 reviews
An electrifying debut novel from the acclaimed author of The Wonder Garden, The Paper Wasp is a riveting knife-edge story of two women's dark friendship of twisted ambition set against the backdrop of contemporary Hollywood In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her child ...more
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Grove Press
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Lauren Acampora certainly makes an arresting debut in this literary psychological drama that showcases her beautiful and impressive writing skills. Abby Graven is the product of small town Michigan, where she still lives, a once promising art student whose star has fallen after she dropped out of university. She now lives a dreary and demoralising life working as a cashier in a supermarket, obsessively following, some might say stalking, her childhood best friend, now a Hollywood success story, ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
3.5 This is one of the those books that you finish reading and wonder what is was you just read. Not because I didn't understand it, or at least most of it, but because it was so different, so strange. It's very strangeness is also what I found intriguing. From the beginning it had snow ominious tone, that increases as one reads. Abbi, once had alot of promise, but ultimately found her life unfulfilling. Her early friendship with Elise, a friendship that meant everything, becomes estranged when ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am still a huge fan of “The Wonder Garden”,
written by Lauren Acampora. After reading an early advance copy...
I later bought the hardcopy.
It’s still one of my most favorite unusual- riveting collection of short - linked - stories I’ve ever read. It’s so brilliantly crafted - so mind blowing fascinating and brilliant - taking place in upper-class suburbia -
that I was beyond excited to read this next book.

This book starts out grabbing my attention - dark-creepy-mysterious- ( different than “T
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book immediately captivated me with it's subliminal darkness and the arresting characterization of a woman, Abby, as she teeters on the edge of mental instability. I easily breezed through this story in one day as I felt like I was rubbernecking a slow motion fatal car wreck in progress, unable to turn away.

The entire story is told through Abby's perception of her world and the people in it leaving the reader to constantly question the reliability of the narration.

I am a huge fan of immersi
RTC? Hopefully something once I figure out what I just read.

Definitely different, interesting yet disturbing.

So even after one month, I am still not sure I can review this book because simply put, I just don't know how! Like I said before, this book is definitely different, interesting and disturbing. I really liked the writing and the story, while you read it, is easy to follow except that you just can't pinpoint what hit you once you are done reading the book.
One of my favorite things to read about are toxic women friendships. It's sort of like book crack to me and it brings to mind last years Social Creature or more recently Necessary People which are two books that have become favorites of mine so requesting The Paper Wasp really was a no brainer for me.

We have two childhood best friends that grow up in a small town in Michigan, Abby and Elise. As high school approaches the two begin to drift apart as Elise decides to pursue her dream of acting. E
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cynical Abby is 28, working at a grocery store, living with her parents and hiding from the world. She is obsessed with her childhood best friend, Elise, who is making movies in Hollywood. Abby follows Elise's every move and keeps a scrapbook full of pictures and articles about her. Her fondest memories are of the stories she used to write for Elise to act out, when they were children. Now Abby spends time in her bedroom, drawing her vivid dreams and imagining her favorite director, Auguste Perr ...more
DNF @ 15% . Not my cup of tea :-(
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
After completing this book, I wasn’t sure exactly what I had just read. I fluctuated from thinking the main character, Abby, was mentally ill to wondering if I was just missing the entire point of the novel. I think it might be a little of both.

Abby is a dispirited young woman living with her equally despondent parents in Michigan. Her older sister has become enmeshed in drugs and sex and any closeness Abby may have had with her has long disappeared. Abby spends her days creating fantastical and
Abby Graven was a high school misfit, and has never quite grown out of the idea that she's weird and special and doesn't belong because she's superior. Abby's compulsion is art. Her drawings are based on her own recurring dreams – 'the satyr dream', 'the dream of the house on the hill', among others – of which she has created hundreds of elaborate illustrations. She fancies herself an acolyte of experimental filmmaker Auguste Perren, and follows his creative techniques religiously; everything, f ...more
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Review originally appeared on Open Letters Review.

Landing somewhere in between Marisha Pessl's Night Film and You by Caroline Kepnes, Lauren Acampora's debut novel The Paper Wasp aims to disturb while it enraptures. A dreamlike combination of the pressures of Hollywood and the increasingly dangerous delusions of an unstable main character, the book personifies all the nasty and envious emotions stirred up by the all-too-frequent comparison exercises of one's own social media profiles to those of
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meet Abby, a sensitive, highly intuitive, creative loner, working at a local grocery store.
At a highschool reunion she catches up with Elise, her childhood friend, now an upcoming Hollywood actress.
In a haze of alcohol the woman exchange numbers, and some time later Abby finally finds the courage to give up her petty existance and travel to Los Angeles. Elise hires her as a personal assistant and for a while things look rosy.

The book deals with the dynamics between an authentic dreamscaper and
Debi Hawkes
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
"Paper Wasp: These stinging insects are semi-social creatures, as they typically live in small colonies but do not have a worker caste....their territoriality can lead to attacks on people, and because their stings are quite painful and can produce a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction in some individuals," Wikipedia

The novel is aptly named.

Two childhood bestfriends, one a Hollywood starlet the other a brilliant but mental college burnout reunite at their high school reunion. Neither charact
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Abby had a promising art career to look forward to after high school but finds herself still living at home with her parents and working as a cashier.  She spends a lot of her time flipping through the magazines by her register hoping to spot her former BFF Elise, who is quickly gaining popularity as a Hollywood actress.

Abby learns that Elise will be at their ten year high school reunion and she decides to attend in hopes of speaking with Elise once again.  She's surprised to find that Elise rem
Thank you to Grove Publishing group and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this novel.
I am not sure where to begin with review so I will start with the unsettled way I feel after finishing this narrative. Usually, the reader finds a link with the protagonist that allows you to like them and root for them...not this time. I never liked Abby at any point in the story, I did root for her to find some sense of self and place but I never truly liked her. She is quite honestly dark and trou
Britta Böhler
The writing was really engaging but the story didnt capture me, and the 'cult'-part was grossly underdevelopped and came across as rather silly.
Diana Iozzia
Jun 27, 2020 rated it liked it
“The Paper Wasp”
Written by Lauren Acampora
Review written by Diana Iozzia

The Paper Wasp is a fiction novel that has small elements of psychological thriller due to its theme of ambition, jealousy, and warped female friendship. Unfortunately, the novel disappoints in its execution, making it feel more like a novel about a woman who moves to Los Angeles and can never find happiness. The style of the novel is very artistic and full of figurative language that feels to be a bit much.

In the story, Abb
Roman Clodia
Toxic female friendships have been having their fictional day for quite some time now, often with a side-helping of mental health issues: so in lots of ways Acampora is following an established trend which results in this book seriously lacking originality. What she adds to the mix, though, is a surrealist arty edge as Abby's drawings obsess with the grotesque images utilised by a Guillermo del Toro-alike film director who also, rather oddly, owns a Hollywood spa which specialises in Jungian psy ...more
Ellen ✦ Book Bellas ✦
'The Paper Wasp' is a compelling and creepy story of obsession, fame and Hollywood. I listened to the audio book which I highly recommend, given the almost dreamlike nature of the book. The narrator really made Lauren Acampora's brilliant writing come alive.

In rural Michigan, Abby leads a lonely life. She was once a promising and gifted artist but now works at a boring, dead-end job. There are hints of darkness in her life, and one gets the sense that Abby is barely holding onto reality. She es
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The writing is fantastic here, beautiful in a mellow, airy kind of way, but always with this undercurrent of everything being just slightly off-kilter in main character Abby's narration. Abby is, through and through, an unreliable narrator. And that's not a spoiler, don't worry - her unreliability doesn't come as some big twist in the story, because like I said, it's always there, just under the surface of everything she says and does and thinks. You can't fully trust her perceptions, or whether ...more
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
Acampora is a new author to me. Her blurb hooked me and I could not wait to read this story about a woman navigating herself through a mild obsession with a childhood friend, an actress living in Los Angeles.

While this story offers good prose, often vivid in nature and demonstrating struggles the main character deals with daily, from family strife to career goals that may pass by her and its cover art mesmerized me, I cannot say this story connected with me. None of the characters, including the
Tiffany PSquared
I went into this book thinking it would only be about an uncomfortable obsession between friends. Then Acampora took a swift left turn with the plot and the Darkside we entered was like the black hole of platonic relationships.
With an undercurrent of Single White Female vibes, The Paper Wasp creeps slowly, but relentlessly toward a wildly uncomfortable & obsessive middle, denouement, and epilogue.

Written in first person, there is no escaping Abby's steady decline into "enlightenment" about her
I have a feeling I’m not in Kansas anymore.
This was more like a fever dream than a novel.
I’m not sure of what I think of this novel, how many stars I should click for “my rating,” or ... how a person/author could hold this book in the parallel universe of her mind and walk around as a functioning human.
ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook
3.5 Stars

This story is told from the singular point of view, of our main character, Abby. Taken at face value, it is a lovely and heartbreaking reflection on childhood friendship, and on how living life changes everything. Readers who look for no more than that will be carried along by the unfolding of the story, which moves forward though events that are unforeseen and yet emotionally inevitable.

The book is wholly satisfying on that level. But for those who want more, it also has themes that ar
Apr 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to and Grove Press for this book. My opinions are my own.

I didn't realize this was a sort of Young Adult book or chick lit I guess you can also call it since Elise and Abby meet once again at their 10 year high school reunion which would make them 28 years old. Abby seemed to be the outcast in high school, overweight and shy and into her artistry and Elise seems to be the outgoing one always wanting to become an actress.

Abby and Elise were once very close friends, almost
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-review
The plot is extremely intriguing, modern and captivating, whilst the characters are fleshed-out and relatable, with realistic motivating forces and emotional struggles. Acampora's prose is flowing; its rhythm and clarity makes for a gripping novel, one that stays with the reader long after he/she turns the final page. Will definitely be checking out more fiction from this writer.

This copy was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review by the publisher via NetGalley.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from for a review.

When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she is surprised and warmed that Elise still considers her not only a friend but a brilliant storyteller and true artist.

Good story. It's told entirely in Abby's voice which gives the story (and reader) a very slanted view. I couldn't figure out Abby's motive and that kept things off balance.

4 stars
Valerie Best
If you like your sociopaths sympathetically written, then this is the book for you.
After a college-era suicide attempt, Abby is living at home in Michigan until she runs into her childhood friend and current Hollywood star, Elise, at a high school reunion.
Next thing you know Abby is packing up and heading to LA where she begins the protracted process of ruining Elise’s life and career because, I don’t know, Elise isn’t worthy of it?
Have you ever had someone start to tell you what you thought was
Ankit Garg
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora is an out-of-the-league novel. When I finished reading it, I wasn't sure what hit me - I am still not sure if it is a good thing or a bad one!

I love dark endings, and although this one fits the bill, I cannot really say that I enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong here, the writing style is interesting; the story, not as much though. The main character is fishy, and the reader is left in two minds whether to like her or not. Or may be it is just me, and I couldn't real
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the cover art. The Paper Wasp is a dark and twisted story of obsession and longing. Abie and Elise were high school friends. They drift apart. Now, several years on, Abie is a common woman, and Elise is a starlet. Abie is nothing, and Elise is everything. After reconnecting at a reunion, Abie goes to basically live with Elise in her fancy house in California. Abie becomes obsessed because she just wants to be something else. The plot is intriguing and different from other books I've read. ...more
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Lauren Acampora's first novel, The Paper Wasp, was published by Grove Atlantic in June 2019. It’s been named a Best Summer Read by The New York Times Book Review, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, ELLE, Town & Country,, Daily Mail (UK), Tatler, Thrillist, and Publishers Weekly. It has also been nominated for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

Her debut collection of linked stories, The Wo

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