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Three Girls and Their Brother: A Novel Hardcover – April 8, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Intrusion: A Novel
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rebeck has won an Edgar and a Peabody for her TV work and numerous awards for her plays. Her hilarious first novel begins when the New Yorker profiles the three beautiful granddaughters and grandson of a famed late literary critic, Leo Heller. As a perennially aspiring model, Daria, 18, is ecstatic. Her younger sister, Polly, 17, is thrilled, too, but 14-year-old Amelia could care less. Philip, 15, who is the smartest of the group, is the first of the four to assume the first-person narrative; he's wary of all the attention, but the siblings' former beauty queen mom can't wait to take advantage of the publicity and push her daughters into show biz, even if it means sacrificing their schooling. Rebeck shines when Amelia gets cast in a ridiculous off-Broadway play: her insider's look at the theater world is spot on and uproarious, particularly her contrast of poor starving actors with rich starving models and of theater types with Hollywood types. The siblings' voices are not consistently strong, and an over-the-top revenge plot drains some power from the plot, but the crackling satire and scene-stealing secondaries carry the book. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This debut novel by a Peabody award-winning playwright has its finger on the pulse of what's current and happening. It is also a very old story of exploitation, greed, and over-the-top drama done in four first-person voices: the eponymous Heller siblings—three beautiful red-haired teenage girls—and, oh yes, their brother. The tale begins with a classy picture in Vanity Fair by a noted photographer and ends, semi-tragically, in the way that all celebrity stories seem to end—in tabloid headlines and with paparazzi shots and court proceedings. Reading this book is like eating too much candy; it tastes good and you want to wolf it all down, but by the time you're done, it will make you feel sick. The three sisters, although different, become so manipulated by others that if the sections weren't labeled, it would be difficult to tell the point of view had changed from voice alone. Their rabid vanity becomes grating, while the nonexistence of any parental responsibility bodes ill for their futures and that of the only sympathetic character, their brother. Still, teens who like Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" or Zoey Dean's "A-List" series (both Little, Brown) will devour this with no indigestion.—Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030739414X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307394149
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,244,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are moments in Teresa Rebeck's Three Girls and Their Brother where the satire is sharp and precise. Most of that satire is found in Rebeck's portrayal of the publicists, agents, and media that attach themselves to another's celebrity. Rebeck utilizes the copious amount of time that she's obviously spent with these parasites to create characters that are ruthless in their desire to both maintain their status and perpetuate a celebrity's fame. When the story is focused on these characters, the book works.

The bad news is that the book doesn't focus on them often enough. Instead, the story focuses on the Heller siblings, who are bland main characters. Despite Rebeck's efforts to give them a unique voice by having each sibling act as sole narrator for several chapters, the main characters seem to be the same individual (a surprising result, given Rebeck's background as a playwright). Worse yet, the plot has some gaping holes that beg to be addressed, but never are. For instance, despite a couple of hints, the answer as to how the Heller girls received a cover shoot for the New Yorker magazine is left unanswered. Also briefly mentioned and then dropped is a possible incest storyline. Plot holes like these give the appearance that Rebeck wasn't sure how to develop the plot.

In the end, Three Girls and Their Brother is just an okay book. As I mentioned before, there are moments of great satire within the book that are definitely worth reading. But, those moments are few and fleeting. Instead, the reader is left with a book that wants to be a biting satire of the celebrity culture, but ends up having no teeth.
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Format: Hardcover
Noted playwright, Theresa Rebeck's tongue-in-cheek debut novel exposes the dark underbelly of all that fame does--and doesn't have to offer.

When three adolescent auburn-haired sisters gain notoriety for--well, not much of anything but their fiery hair and literary giant grandfather--their lives are turned upside down. There's Daria Heller, the oldest at 19, with an inflated sense of self and an aspiration to become an actress. Polly is the second child, who at 18 is precocious and wishy-washy. Then there's Amelia, the youngest and most rebellious at 14, who cares less about fame than her sisters.

The girls' father enters the picture sporadically and inconsistently. Their stage mother has a drinking problem and will stop at nothing to push her daughters into the public eye. Colette is the Heller sisters' overzealous agent and the driving force behind their mother. Then there's Phillip, the brother who helplessly stands by and gets caught up in everything as his sisters' drama unfolds.

Rebeck's book. Three Girls and Their Brother is refreshingly candid portrayal of sibling rivalry and showcases familial dysfunction at its finest. The novel takes us through the glitzy parties, champagne-soaked celebrity encounters, glamorous photo shoots and the pesky paparazzi who document everything they bump into along the way.

Three Girls and Their Brother is divided into four parts, told from the first-person perspectives of Phillip, Amelia, Polly and Daria. Rebeck has easily transitioned from playwright to novelist. It's clear, when reading the book, she's mastered the art of conversation, as conversation among the siblings will resonate with you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked up this book on a whim and I'm really glad I did. The first night I read 88 pages and I finished it two nights later. Maybe it's because I do enjoy a bit of gossip (dlisted anyone?). It was interesting to see scandal from the other side, I guess I won't be so quick to judge from now on. I thought the author was really able to capture the voices of the 4 main characters so well, I got very attached to them. I was sad when the book ended and that hasn't happened to me in a long time. Thank you Ms. Rebeck, I needed that.
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Format: Hardcover
September 4, 2008

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I read THREE GIRLS AND THEIR BROTHER a few months back. It is the rather auspicious fiction debut by Pulitzer finalist Theresa Rebeck. In short, the story revolves around a family of minor celebrities that becomes front page news after a provocative photo shoot of the three sisters, Daria (age 18), Polly (age 17) and Amelia (14). Brother Phillip (age 15) is left out, and all throughout the story, it is shown how left out he is not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives as well.

The siblings get the attention of the media mainly because their grandfather is a famous writer but they are beauties and it makes for a sensational story. Phillip is overly protective of the youngest sister, Amelia, and this shows in the first section of the book. By the second section, their mother has gotten rid of Phillip and has sent him to live with his father, to get him out of the way so he doesn't continue to influence Amelia. In the meantime, Amelia gets into some trouble involving a famous actor who becomes smitten with her (the age gap is one problem) but she tries desperately to thwart his attentions. She also winds up getting a part in an off-Broadway play that this same actor is starring in, and things go downhill. The other two sisters seem jealous of Amelia's popularity, at least that is how it appears to the reader.

I'm not going to go on and on with the plot. It's a very involved story with each sibling taking turns at narrating, giving the reader a very different viewpoint of what is actually happening. I found it very refreshing to go from section to section, only to find that what I thought was occurring was really not happening at all.
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