Editor’s Note: Babble and Freeform Books are part of the Walt Disney Company.
Have you ever found yourself sitting on your living room couch — TV remote in one hand, wine glass in the other — totally in shock over what some glossy-haired reality star just casually announced at the dinner table? And then immediately texted your bestie, “OMG DID YOU SEE THAT?!” And then fired off a tweet with an endless string of shocked and appalled emojis? And then set your DVR for next week, because lawd did you need to see how the rest of that scene would go down?
If you answered yes to all of the above, then I believe I have your new favorite reality TV family to binge-watch. Only, you won’t find them on a cable channel. Nope; this reality TV fam lives and breathes — and eats strange, small things with perfectly manicured fingers — on the pages of Royce Rolls, a new young adult novel by author Margaret Stohl.
Stohl, who’s perhaps best known for her Black Widow series, has lived in both Bel Air and Santa Monica, California herself. So she’s definitely no stranger to the many unspoken rules of living in a strange world where people carefully craft their every move. But even if she didn’t hail from one of LA’s most glittery enclaves, Stohl, notes that “with the advent of the Internet and the 24-hour content cycle, we’re all experts in celebrity culture” at this point. And we’re hopelessly addicted.
In her latest book, the author gives a peek into the madness of scripted reality by dropping us into the glorious mind of 16-year-old Bentley Royce, the rainbow-coiffed middle child of a laser-focused LA momager, who’s desperate to keep herself trending on Twitter. Even if it means literally scripting out how her each of her kids are to look, act, and live, every second of every day.
If you think your parents were strict and slightly crazy growing up, you haven’t met Mercedes Royce — mother of Bentley, her makeup maven big sister Porsche, and her cheeky baby brother, Bach. (Word to the wise: Whatever you do, don’t you DARE call her “Mom.”)
Whether you can’t get enough of the crazy antics on shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or just hate-watch them with your girlfriends and occasionally tweet at the stars, you will love Royce Rolls just as much as your teen. (Seriously — I couldn’t put it down.) This delightful romp was born out of the kind of West Coast weirdness we’re all simply incapable of looking away from.
And according to Stohl, that was precisely what inspired her to sit down and write it.
“I was looking at a reality show story about a celebrity getting some kind of ‘butt facial’ — no, really — and I thought, How is this a girl and how am I also a girl and how are we possibly the same species? And what the heck would I do if I had been born into this family?” Stohl tells Babble.
Such are the questions you’ll find yourself asking too as you tear through the pages of this laugh-out-loud melodrama, full of baby “trout pouts” for the paparazzi, sibling fights for control, (literal) sucker-punches, romances, fauxmances, ridiculously expensive highlights, fast cars, and a surprising amount of heart.
But here’s what really makes the story more desirable than next-season’s Birkin bag: Only someone with an inside scoop to what happens behind closed doors in that world could write something this rich and delicious. Plus, Stohl sticks to what she does best: writing about “being a girl who never fits in anywhere.”
And honestly, that’s something we can all relate to — no matter where we live, or how old we get.
Royce Rolls is available now on Freeform Books, and wherever books are sold.