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The Paper Wasp

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  283 ratings  ·  177 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, 240 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Grove Press
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  283 ratings  ·  177 reviews

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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
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
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
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 (abookolive)
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lit-fic, olr-reviews
See my review on Open Letters Review:
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
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
Karen Kay
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
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
ʚϊɞ Shelley ʚϊɞ
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
Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
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
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.
Ankit Garg
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
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
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog:
'I’d long nurtured the private suspicion that I was an outcast not because I was inferior, but because I was exceptional; that the fulfillment of my purpose awaited activation from the universe; that I just needed to wait. And now, as simple as a music box clicking open, it was time.'

Abby Graven abandons stale Michigan, feeling she has awoken from some ‘prolonged, dank dream’. Her deep connection to her once best friend Elise (now a rising star,
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Abby has high hopes for a career making movies but she’s still living at home with her parents and working at a local supermarket. She keeps all magazine and newspaper articles about her friend, Elise, who has gone on to become a movie actress. She meets Elise again at a school reunion and is thrilled that Elise not only remembers how close they were but wants them to become close again. Elise gives Abby her phone number, swearing her to secrecy, and tells her to give her a call if she’s ever in ...more
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Abby's mother is really happy that Abby will attend her high school reunion. After all, Abby had a breakdown and had dropped out of the University of Michigan to become a cashier in a Meijer grocery--Getting out a bit could help her our of her depression. Abby ends up reuniting with her dear friend from years earlier, the now-famous actress Elise. We come to find out Abby really has some major issues but only as we read further into the book do we see just how messed up she really is. I think th ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, 2018, netgalley
The Paper Wasp certainly was an interesting read! If you're looking for a fast-paced and action-filled novel, you'll be disappointed. The story deals mostly with our main character Abby, her dreams and thoughts and her obsession with Elise. Abby desperately wants her friendship with Elise to go back the way it was. She's longing for the deep connection she shared with Elise in their childhood, but Elise is now a famous actress in Hollywood and Abby works at a local supermarket still back in her ...more
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
Release Date: 21 June 2019
ARC provided by Grove Press/Grove Atlantic via NetGalley
***3.5 Stars***
Publication Date: June 11, 2019

I wanted to like this so much more than I did. Elise and Abby were close high school friends that end up seeing each other again after some time at their high school reunion. Elise has become a successful actress while Abby is just a weird insecure girl. Elise tells Abby she should come visit her in Hollywood, which I took as just being nice and not truly meaning but of course Abby shows up at her doorstep shortly after. (She’s just weird and lonel
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Two childhood best friends reconnect at their high school reunion in Michigan. Elise has become a famous Hollywood actress, while Abby, brilliant, but unfocused, has struggled to leave her parents' house. A casual invitation to visit Los Angeles leads to a months-long stay where Abby takes on the role of assistant, best friend, and confidante. Filled with surrealist imagery, The Paper Wasp, explores an obsessive female friendship that is utterly bizarre.

Much like my experience watching a surrea
An intriguing literary thriller—Single White Female meets Inception, if that makes sense? Strange and engrossing with a surprising ending, though I would potentially have preferred a more ambiguous one.
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Lauren Acampora is the author of THE WONDER GARDEN, a collection of linked stories, and THE PAPER WASP, a novel forthcoming in June 2019.

THE WONDER GARDEN was named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and an Indie Next selection, and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by Amazon and NPR. It won the GLCA New Writers Award, was a finalist for the New England Book Aw
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