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Allie Rowbottom Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Jell-O Girls: A Family History (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Allie Rowbottom
Allie Rowbottom grew up in New York City and New England.

Allie got her BA from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and her PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston.

“Aesthetica” was named a best book of 2022 by NPR, Glamour Magazine, and Vanity Fair. “Jell-O Girls” was an Amazon Best Book of the Month, a 2018 NYT Editor’s Choice Selection, Indie Next Pick, and Read Simple Best Book of the year.

Her short fiction and essays can be found in Elle, Vanity Fair, The London Times, The New York Times, Forever Magazine, Flaunt New York Tyrant, Dazed, The Drunken Canal, and elsewhere. She writes Beauty Mark, a monthly column, for Byline.

Her research for “Aesthetica” was very organic. She was just on Instagram a bunch, only poking around. It came from things that she was obsessed with in her real life, stuff that she did not think of as being research until later on, like getting Botox for the very first time.

When she was writing, she was not listening to podcasts. She did listen to a ton of true crime podcasts (Weinstein and Epstein) and these helped her out because how does this go, because it was such an obvious trajectory. A young girl comes to the city in order to make it big. A bunch of people in the industry that are charged with elevating these girls to instant stardom are a bit seedy since it’s the same as it’s ever been. It is reducing women to their bodies and using these bodies to sell things. Or cultivate desire and a viewership.

The opening of the novel came from a trip that she and her husband took in 2017 to Ojo Caliente hot springs in New Mexico. And she saw the outline for the book’s opening. It was early enough in her own mom’s loss trajectory that she was in this place where she’d get really fixated on moms and their adult daughters, or moms and daughters in general, out in the world, she’d see them and feel deeply wounded by their existence. She saw some teen girls just laughing in a mud tub area, and this mom and daughter watching them. This was an image that stayed throughout so many different drafts of this book.

Jake is another character that persisted. He came out totally formed very early on and that scene where Anna first meets Jake has been a constant throughout each and every draft of the novel.

Allie also knew right from the start that she wanted Anna to go through with her first surgical procedure, which is a breast augmentation. The plot shifted around this procedure and how Allie could have Anna go through with it without losing her readers. She had a totally different plot at least twice. However what she learned about writing plot (which probably seems very obvious but wasn’t at the time she was writing the novel), is that it has to do everything in its power to reveal and push from the character the emotional truth of the novel.

“Jell-O Girls” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2018. A memoir that braids the evolution of one of America’s most iconic branding campaigns with the stirring stories of the women that lived behind its facade, as told by the inheritor of their tales.

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom’s great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. This sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations which followed enjoyed this immense privilege, however they were also haunted by cancer, mysterious ailments, suicide, cancer, and alcoholism.

Over a century after this deal gets struck, Mary (Allie’s mom) gets diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, which is a disease which had also claimed her own mom’s life. Determined to fight what she’d come to consider to be the “Jell-O Curse” and her looming mortality, Mary starts obsessively researching her family’s past, determined to better comprehend the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional America values that the company championed. Mary, before she passed in 2015, started sending Allie boxes of her notes and research, in the hopes that her daughter would write what she couldn’t. This is the liberation of that story.

This is a gripping examination of the dark side of an iconic American product and is a moving portrait of the women that lived in the shadow of its fractured fortune, this is a feminist history, a family history, and a tale of motherhood, loss, and love. In crystalline prose Allie considers the roots of trauma not just in her own family, however in the American psyche too, ultimately weaving a story which is deeply personal, as well as deeply connected to the collective female experience.

“Aesthetica” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2022. A former influencer faces her past, and takes inventory of the damages which underpin the surface glamour of social media.

At the age of 19, she was an Instagram celebrity. But now, at 35, she works behind the cosmetic counter at the “black and white store”, peddling these anti-aging products to women that seek spiritual and physical transformation. She is also seeking rebirth. She is about to undergo the elective and high-risk surgery Aesthetica, which is a procedure which will reverse every past plastic surgery procedures, and return her (she hopes) to a truer self. That’s provided she survives the knife.

However on the eve of this operation, her traumatic past resurfaces once she gets asked to participate in the public takedown of her ex manager/boyfriend, who has now rebranded himself as a paragon of “woke” masculinity during the post-#MeToo world. With time ticking down to her surgery, she has to face the ugly truth about her experiences both off and on the Instagram grid.

Moving, propulsive, and dark, this is a Veronica for the age of “Instagram face”, delivering a nuanced and fresh examination of feminism, mother-daughter relationships, #MeToo, all as it confronts our collective addiction to filters, followers, and faux realities.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Allie Rowbottom

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