Less Thriller, More Dishy Entertainment | Review: The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz

9:30 AM

Before we dive in, I have to say: I love Melissa de la Cruz. And I enjoyed The Birthday Girl, but am a little puzzled at its being marketed as a thriller.


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex & Eliza comes a return to adult fiction, centered around a mysterious woman's birthday celebration—and what it reveals about her past.

Ellie de Florent-Stinson is celebrating her fortieth birthday with a grand celebration in her fabulous house in Palm Springs.

At forty, it appears Ellie has everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished, college-age stepdaughter; a beautiful ten-year-old girl; two adorable and rambunctious six-year-old twin boys; lush, well-appointed homes in Los Angeles, Park City, and Palm Springs; a thriving career as a well-known fashion designer of casual women's wear; and a glamorous circle of friends.

Except everything is not quite as perfect as it looks on the outside—Ellie is keeping many secrets. This isn’t the first of her birthday parties that hasn't gone as planned. Something happened on the night of her sweet sixteenth. Something she’s tried hard to forget.

But hiding the skeletons of her past comes at a cost, and all of Ellie’s secrets come to light on the night of her fabulous birthday party in the desert—where everyone who matters in her life shows up, invited or not. Old and new, friends and frenemies, stepdaughters and business partners, ex-wives and ex-husbands congregate, and the glittering facade of her life crumbles in one eventful night.

Beautifully paced and full of surprises, The Birthday Girl is an enthralling tale of a life lived in shadow, and its unavoidable consequences.


The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz
Rating: ★★★☆☆

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

Melissa de la Cruz is my original, my forever, auto-buy and ride or die. I've said it before, but I'm a massive fan of her and own a great many of her published works. There's no secret as to why I had jumped at the chance to review her latest--a thriller--The Birthday Girl. It's because I completely adore her and the genre itself.

In the years since I began reading her, I knew one thing was for certain: Melissa de la Cruz writes dazzling secrets, explosive drama and luxurious lifestyles brilliantly. I had high hopes for The Birthday Girl because of this. And while I genuinely enjoyed The Birthday Girl, it was purely dishy entertainment, I couldn't help but wish there was something more to it.

Is it because I *know* the glittering way that Melissa de la Cruz can twist and turn her plotlines and felt that this one fell just a bit short? Maybe. I think, mostly, it had to do with the fact that The Birthday Girl is packaged as a thriller when the reality is that... it isn't quite so. And that disappointed me, personally.

That being said, once I got over the initial confusion of what genre The Birthday Girl was I found myself indulging in the lifestyles of the protagonist, the birthday girl herself, Ellie. The split narration is utilized by Melissa de la Cruz in a way that weaves the bigger picture together for us an audience--although The Birthday Girl isn't wholly unique or shocking, the way that de la Cruz pens it makes even its duller moments shine.

The Birthday Girl has the mild approach to life, its secrets and its mysteries that makes me think it'd be a hit with fans of Pretty Little Liars and The Perfectionists. It holds the promise that sometimes the past doesn't stay hidden forever. Ultimately, The Birthday Girl was an entertaining, quick, last minute summery read.

But it's definitely not Melissa de la Cruz's best.

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