Carlyn Greenwald’s debut adult rom-com, “Sizzle Reel,” is a wholly refreshing and heartfelt sapphic fiction novel releasing next year from Penguin Random House. Set in the not-so-glamorous-as-it-seems world of Hollywood, Luna Roth is a Jewish aspiring cinematographer and talent manager’s assistant in her twenties — and she’s just realized she’s bisexual. Fresh out of a relationship and eager to lose her virginity, she decides to pursue a hookup with one of her manager’s A-list clients, Valeria Sullivan. And when Luna learns the actress just happens to be directing her debut film, she decides to try and score a job on set to further her dream of becoming a cinematographer. But the further she gets entangled with Valeria, the more her other relationships suffer, especially her friendship with her roommate and best friend since film school, nonbinary lesbian Romy. Feeling more lost than ever, Luna eventually must decide what — and who — she truly wants if she wants the love story and job of her dreams.
Written by a screenwriter and film school graduate, “Sizzle Reel” is a hilarious and charming read from start to finish. The love triangle between Luna, Romy and Valeria is intricately plotted and written in a way that feels true to each character — and comes to a satisfying conclusion. The setting and Luna’s passion for cinematography are beautifully written and bring such warmth to the book.
But beyond the romance and the humor is the heart of the story — the messiness that comes with exploring your queer identity for the first time as an adult. So many queer people have their coming-of-age in adulthood rather than in adolescence for a multitude of reasons; the feeling of missing out, of being behind your peers, is one many queer adults can relate to. Luna is a deeply flawed character, and over the course of the novel she makes many mistakes while navigating her identity, but she’s still able to have a happy ending in spite of her misconceptions about queerness, virginity and sex. Queer joy is at the center of “Sizzle Reel,” and that theme is made all the more meaningful by Luna’s struggle with coming into her queerness, which I have no doubt is a story that will resonate with many. It did with me.
“Sizzle Reel” is a must-read for anyone looking for a book about coming out in your twenties, bisexual disasters and happy endings. The novel is currently available for pre-order.