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Laguna Beach: Life Inside The Bubble

Kathy Passero and Beth Efran , MTV Books 2005

Review by Julie Wiskirchen

Are you a fan of Laguna Beach? Have you been staying up at night, wondering what Stephen, Lo, LC, Talan, Jason, and the rest of the gang were like in elementary school? Not really? Well, if you are truly devoted to the show, maybe you'll find this book engrossing.

Myself, I was only a casual viewer. I watched it the way I watch most MTV shows - when I'm feeling lazy on the weekend, unable to commit to watching any of the movies that are clogging my Tivo, and stumble across an MTV marathon. So, I spent an afternoon with the gang of Laguna Beach, over a year ago. When I went to read this book, I found myself having little recollection of the characters. I would read the often cute, occasionally amusing stories about the pre-teen Kristin, Lauren, and Lo and then flip to the color photos in the middle of the book and try to figure out who was who. It was no use - the girls all looked remarkably blond and similar. To make it even more confusing, some of them had the same first name: Alex H. and Alex M., Morgan and Morgan S. I broke the spine of the book by flipping to the middle so frequently, and I still couldn't keep everyone straight.

The book starts out promisingly, retelling the big "Stephen, Lauren, Kristin" love triangle/blow up that was the main drama of the show's first season. But that's where the juicy stuff ends. Instead of delving deeper into the high school drama, the authors take us back in time to the cast members' idyllic childhoods. I guess it's interesting, for true fans, to see how they all came to live in Laguna Beach, who their first friends were, and who dated in 4th grade. But really, their childhood tales of cliques and fishing trips are no more interesting than our own stories from beyond the bubble.

The book seems to be written for a pre-teen audience. It reminds me of the kind of book I bought through those book orders in grade school, slim paperbacks with titles like "Hot CBS Stars of 1978" where you'd get brief, fluffy biographies of Lou Ferrigno and Heather Thomas. I would always pad my book orders with something like that so I could be sure to order the required 3 items in order to get the free poster of a baby seal.

Despite my confusion over the cast and general disengagement, I managed to read the entire book. I gained some important insights by contemplating these anecdotes and ruminating on the hard lessons these kids learned that prepared them for their cut-throat teen years.

  • You might love to dance, but it's more important to have cute feet. "Lo danced until she was a sophomore in high school. By that point, cute polished toes and visits to the nail salon had become a priority for all the girls, and Lo would often joke that her feet were a pedicurist's nightmare. She still thought going en pointe had been worth it for the sense of accomplishment and the sheer joy of dancing. But who would ever have dreamed that underneath that beautiful exterior ballerinas had the ugliest feet in the world?"
  • It's all about the right clothes. Cedric warns his fourth-grade girlfriend
    Alex H.: "You have got to do something about your clothes...here's what you need...board shorts, low-rise jeans, and Rocket Dog sandals." Alex hurried off to tell her mom they needed to go school shopping ASAP.
  • Hide your intellectual interests and dress slutty to attract boys. "Just a year ago, Lauren had been a total dork with braces and friends who were way too into The Lord of The Rings. Back then guys weren't interested unless you were one of the Foxy Roxies, as Lo and her gang of girls called themselves for the Roxy clothes they wore everyday."
  • Domestic staff will always clean up after you. "Fortunately, the weekly housekeeper showed up at mid-morning (the day after Lo threw a house party). Lo felt so guilty that she not only handed over a generous tip, but came clean to her parents about the festivities when they got home."

If you're a die-hard Laguna Beach fan and want to know how well your heroes did in little league and in ballet lessons, go get this book. If you're looking for a book with the trashy fun of the show, read Valley of the Dolls instead.

Share your thoughts on the book, the show, and Kristin's relationship with Nick Lachey here.

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