Goodreads: The Silver Blonde
Age Category: Young Adult
Eighteen-year-old Clara Berg is a vault girl, running reels at Silver Pacific Studios in post-WWII Los Angeles. Then she finds a body in the vaults. It appears to Babe Bannon, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors. Clara finds herself drawn to the mystery, tracking down leads and trying to discover the culprit. But her investigation could jeopardize her life, as well.
The Silver Blonde is an atmospheric historical fiction, inspired by film noir. Fans of classic Hollywood will not only adore all the references to old film, but also immerse themselves in Clara’s world, from the details about film storage to the magic of movie making. A twisty mystery will keep readers turning pages, but it may just be the setting that captures their imaginations.
The story follows eighteen-year-old Clara Berg, an immigrant from Germany who is now a vault girl at Silver Pacific Studios in Los Angeles. Her dream is to become a film editor, though rising through the ranks is not easy for women. Then the discovery of a body threatens to upend her world. The victim appears to be Hollywood star Babe Bannon, killed by a personal enemy, but Clara’s investigations lead her to a deeper mystery that goes back to before WWII. What she uncovers could have repercussions that rock the entire studio. History intertwines with fiction to create a story that feels entirely different from everything else on the YA market.
The setting is truly the star of this book. Clara as a character is rather bland, as is her intended love interest. Even a hint of her struggles being accepted in a post-WWII America, or a glimpse at the sexism she experiences at work, do not give her character arc much trajectory. Clara is sort of a passionless stand-in for the reader, who gets to experience Hollywood through the eyes of the Everywoman, the person who works behind the scenes to make the stars look good. What Clara sees feels like magic.
Readers looking for a memorable historical fiction will delight in The Silver Blonde. The setting–after WWII rather during–is unique, and captures a fascinating time in American history, when the people were trying to move on from a shared trauma, but also finding that the past continued to haunt them. It is always a pleasure to find a YA that feels different from the rest–and The Silver Blonde certainly has its own alluring voice.