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An Innocent Fashion
Cover of An Innocent Fashion
An Innocent Fashion
A Novel
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"Writing in a fervently literary style that flirts openly with the traditions of Salinger, Plath, and Fitzgerald, Hernández is a diamond-sharp satirist and a bracingly fresh chronicler of the heartbreak of trying to grow up. Honest and absurd, funny and tragic, wild and lovely, this novel describes modern coming-of-age with poetic precision."*

The Devil Wears Prada meets The Bell Jar in this story of a wide-eyed Ivy League grad who discovers that his dream of "making it" at leading New York City fashion magazine Régine may well be his undoing.

Elián San Jamar knew from childhood that he was destined for a better life than the one his working-class multiracial parents share in Texas—a life inspired by Régine's pages. A full ride to Yale opens the door to a more glamorous world, and he quickly befriends Madeline and Dorian, both scions of incredible wealth and privilege. With their help, he reinvents himself, and after four decadent years he graduates as Ethan St. James. But reality hits hard when Ethan arrives at Régine and is relegated to the lowest rung of the ladder.

Mordantly funny and emotionally ruthless, An Innocent Fashion is the saga of a true millennial—naïve, idealistic, struggling with his identity and sexuality—trying to survive in an industry, and in a city, notorious for attracting new graduates only to chew them up and spit them out. Oscillating between melodrama and whip-smart sarcasm, pretentiousness and heartbreaking vulnerability, increasingly disillusioned with Régine and Madeline and Dorian, Ethan begins to unravel.

As the narratives of his conflicted childhood, cloistered collegiate experience, and existential crisis braid together, this deeply moving coming-of-age novel for the twenty-first century spirals toward a devastating realization: You can follow your dreams, but what happens if your dreams are just not enough?

*Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Writing in a fervently literary style that flirts openly with the traditions of Salinger, Plath, and Fitzgerald, Hernández is a diamond-sharp satirist and a bracingly fresh chronicler of the heartbreak of trying to grow up. Honest and absurd, funny and tragic, wild and lovely, this novel describes modern coming-of-age with poetic precision."*

The Devil Wears Prada meets The Bell Jar in this story of a wide-eyed Ivy League grad who discovers that his dream of "making it" at leading New York City fashion magazine Régine may well be his undoing.

Elián San Jamar knew from childhood that he was destined for a better life than the one his working-class multiracial parents share in Texas—a life inspired by Régine's pages. A full ride to Yale opens the door to a more glamorous world, and he quickly befriends Madeline and Dorian, both scions of incredible wealth and privilege. With their help, he reinvents himself, and after four decadent years he graduates as Ethan St. James. But reality hits hard when Ethan arrives at Régine and is relegated to the lowest rung of the ladder.

Mordantly funny and emotionally ruthless, An Innocent Fashion is the saga of a true millennial—naïve, idealistic, struggling with his identity and sexuality—trying to survive in an industry, and in a city, notorious for attracting new graduates only to chew them up and spit them out. Oscillating between melodrama and whip-smart sarcasm, pretentiousness and heartbreaking vulnerability, increasingly disillusioned with Régine and Madeline and Dorian, Ethan begins to unravel.

As the narratives of his conflicted childhood, cloistered collegiate experience, and existential crisis braid together, this deeply moving coming-of-age novel for the twenty-first century spirals toward a devastating realization: You can follow your dreams, but what happens if your dreams are just not enough?

*Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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About the Author-
  • R.J. HERNÁNDEZ is a writer living in New York City. He was raised in Miami by Cuban-American parents and graduated from Yale University in 2011. This is his first novel.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 15, 2016
    Hernandez portrays the scope of dreams, love, and the fashion industry in this literary debut. Even before he spies escape in the pages of top fashion magazine Regine, Elian San Jamar knows, intrinsically and at a young age, that he does not belong with his working-class parents in ugly Corpus Christi, Texas. Against familial and geographical odds, he adamantly forges his own path through childhood, ascending to new heights when he earns a full scholarship to Yale, changes his name to Ethan St. James, and bonds with Madeline Dupre, a blue-blooded doll with privilege to share. The pair are soon befriended by Dorian Belgraves, the son of a famous model, forming a complex trio. His friends' enthusiasm encourages Ethan to follow his calling, seeking out and cultivating beauty--and when he earns an internship at Regine after graduation, it seems that all his dreams are coming true. But of course anyone who's read a fashion-industry roman a clef knows how twisted this road will inevitably become. Work at Regine is grueling and soulless, not remotely what Ethan expected when he styled himself in its image as a young adult. As an industry, fashion turns out to be quite fascist (hysterically so, at times), and it feeds ravenously on Ethan's innocence. Madeline and Dorian are hardly helpful in this regard. Exiting the enchanted, equalizing field of Yale, they can continue to romp where their hearts desire while Ethan has to pay rent. And how to make a living in a disconnected, capitalist world is something for which neither his passion nor his Ivy League education has prepared him. Writing in a fervently literary style that flirts openly with the traditions of Salinger, Plath, and Fitzgerald, Hernandez is a diamond-sharp satirist and a bracingly fresh chronicler of the heartbreak of trying to grow up. Honest and absurd, funny and tragic, wild and lovely, this novel describes modern coming-of-age with poetic precision.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Washington Post "Wry...literary.... His characters are vivid enough to stand alone....Victims of their affected apathy and subject, beneath their veneer of disinterested sophistication, to the same immemorial terrors and heartbreaks, Madeline, Dorian and Ethan are eminently believable."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred) "Writing in a fervently literary style that flirts openly with the traditions of Salinger, Plath, and Fitzgerald, Hernández is a diamond-sharp satirist.... Honest and absurd, funny and tragic, wild and lovely, this novel describes modern coming-of-age with poetic precision."
  • Travel + Leisure "Hernández's writing is beautiful, and the story offers a searing take on privilege, glamour, and the socialite scene. Charming and very astute."
  • Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty "By turns mordantly dark and charmingly funny, R. J. Hernández's debut is a modern fable with a timeless heart."
  • People Magazine online "Hernández's coming-of-age story...[an] unapologetic view into the underbelly of fashion media, chronicles its protagonist's experience trying to fit into a world where a person's social background is scrutinized just as much as his skills and intellect."
  • TimeOut New York, “The best and most erotic LGBT books to read this summer” "Delivers a mixture of satire, fashion, postcollege depression and confusion, all delicately rolled into a turquoise binding with lyrically gifted accents."
  • Elle.com, “19 Summer Books That Everyone Will Be Talking About” "Lose yourself in the world of a fictional fashion magazine . . . . Hernández creates a hybrid coming-of-age story mixed with a fashion industry tale that's fast-paced and full of drama."
  • VanityFair.com "The Devil Wears Prada for millenials.... Explores the magazine industry through a different lens than past insider tomes....With a sure hand, Hernández leads his readers into an overlapping world of Ivy-League pedigree and corporate hustle."
  • Out Magazine online "Triumphant.... A gripping journey through the halls of high fashion told through a voice seldom used on today's shelves: that of great American Classics."
  • Edge Media Network "Approaches a typical portrayal of the high-brow worlds of academia and fashion only to break them open, exposing the racist and classist stigmas that govern them.... Darkly entertaining, emotionally exhausting, and overall, well worth reading."
  • Bullett Magazine "Using the fast-paced, flamboyant fashion industry as a backdrop to highlight personal and social struggles, Hernandez's darkly humorous novel outlines the familiar millennial conflict of sacrificing our values for success.... Incredible."
  • Christine Reilly, Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday "An Innocent Fashion is reflective of our contemporary New York City—rollicking, indulgent and full of beauty one minute, and despairing, haunting, and full of grit the next. And above all—one of a kind, and the best of its kind."
  • Ioannis Pappos, author of Hotel Living (finalist for Lambda Literary and Edward White Debut Fiction awards) "Just when you think you've read enough about the rising American generation, the smartest debut comes along and proves you wrong. Hernandez slow-cooks Ivy League privilege, high fashion orthodoxy, ambition, and the agony of not belonging, teasing you between hysteria and resignation. A feast."
  • The Daily Star "Full of flashy fiascos and dark humour, An Innocent Fashion was one of the sharpest and most fascinating books I've read in a while."
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