Member Reviews

First, thank you to Net Galley and Henry Holt publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit this wasn’t one of my favorites and I struggled to finish. Kitty Karr was an excellent character and her portion of the narrative was very good. It was written in a back and forth style of present day and historical timeline (Kitty being in the historical sections) and I found the transitions difficult and the present day narrative a bit confusing in terms of its point. The discussions surrounding the FBI needed some work to make them fit better in the narrative. I had high hopes for the book since several authors whose work I read regularly lauded it.

I just couldn't get into it...and the mere fact that I finished it was the best I could do.

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I really enjoyed the historical sections of the novel. Overall, this is a thoughtful exploration of why people make the choices that they make.

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I LOVED THIS BOOK - Could not put it down.

Reminiscent of "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" the story goes back and forth from Hollywood in the 2000's and Hollywood in the 1950s.

Story centers around the death of a White movie star icon Kitty Karr and her mysterious relationship between the three Black St. John sisters.

If I write more I will give away the plot but let's just say it is a wonderful book that I just couldn't put down.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC and to #Henry Hold and Co. for allowing me the pleasure of reading the book.

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Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this recent Reese's Book Club pick by Crystal Smith Paul, Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Pub date: May 2, 2023

Brief intro: When Kitty Karr Tate, a White icon of the silver screen, dies and bequeaths her multimillion-dollar estate to the St. John sisters, three young, wealthy Black women, it prompts questions. Lots of questions.

So much happens in this book! At times, I felt a bit overwhelmed trying to keep details and names straight. However, I really enjoyed the storyline and how it introduced me to a concept I had never heard of - "passing".
Passing is when a person from Black lineage can "pass" as being white, so they abandon their Black life for one of privilege, taking on a whole new identity.
The stories of Kitty Karr and the St. John's sisters was so intriguing, I struggled to put this one down! The book addresses racism and White privilege in Hollywood, and revisits historic moments like the brutal killing of Emmett Till and the desegregation of public establishments in the South. It also reminds us that we, as a nation, still have so much to improve upon when it comes to matters of racism, microaggressions, and police brutality.
This is certainly a book that will stay with me and I'm grateful for the chance I had to read it.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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4/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley for the arc. I really liked this book. When Kitty Carr dies, she leaves her fortune to the St. Johns sisters, three black women. The book spans the reasoning behind this by being told through multi generations. I think this would be an excellent book to discuss with friends!

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Did You Hear About Kitty Karr had a really interesting summary and I was excited to dive in. I loved the alternating timelines between present day LA and the past set in the South. It was a really intriguing contrast. Although I really liked this book, I didn’t love it. It felt like the story dragged on a bit at times and I was in the mood for something with a little bit of a faster pace. I look forward to reading more from this author!

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This is one of those books where it’s hard to say much without giving away major plot points in the story, so my review is going to be deliberately short and a bit vague.

Pretty much all you need to know going into this story is that, in 2017, a famous and iconic movie actress named Kitty Karr Tate, who is White, dies at the age of 81 and leaves her billion dollar fortune to the already wealthy St. John sisters, who are Black. The St. John family is Hollywood royalty and also millionaires in their own right, so Kitty’s actions of bequeathing her estate to them raises lots of questions. The story opens in the present, where the eldest St. John sister Elise is tasked with sorting through Kitty’s belongings according to her very specific instructions, as well as arranging her memorial service, all while having to deal with personal problems of her own that, being a famous actress herself, are getting played out in the public eye. From there, we are sent back in time to 1934, where we meet a Black woman named Hazel living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The story alternates back and forth between the past and present, in a slow-burn narrative told from the perspectives of several different characters. The two timelines do eventually converge, but it takes a long time to get there — which isn’t usually a problem, except that in this case, I had already figured out the entire plot by that time, so when the moment of “the big reveal” arrived, it was anti-climactic. Even so, despite the predictability of the plot, the story still held my interest, and I was especially curious, given the circumstances of the characters, whether the secrets that some of them had been hiding, would eventually come out, as well as what the repercussions would be.

Even though the setting of the present timeline was in modern day Los Angeles (which I’m always drawn to in stories due to the familiarity, since that’s where I grew up and also where I still live currently), I actually preferred the past timeline more than the present one, as I found the historical nuances of Hazel’s and Kitty’s stories much more interesting to read about. With that said, from a structure perspective, flipping back and forth between the two timelines, I felt that there were moments where some of the plot points involving a few of the characters got lost in the shuffle — this resulted in me having to go back and re-read some sections to make sure I got those parts of the story straight.

Overall, this is a captivating story that‘s both relevant and timely in its exploration of race, gender, and identity, as well as the question of how to reconcile these against society’s conventions. I definitely appreciated what the author, Crystal Smith Paul, tried to do here, even though I did feel the story as a whole was overly long and some scenes (especially the ones in the present timeline) were perhaps not really needed. There are also quite a few “heavy” things that are dealt with in here and triggers abound, so keep that mind (although I didn’t feel that the “heaviness” overwhelmed at all). In terms of characters, there are quite a few and at times, it’s hard to keep them straight, but the main ones will stand out. I found Kitty Karr to be a very compelling character, though Hazel was the character I emphasized with and rooted for the most.

This was a strong debut and I definitely look forward to what Crystal Smith Paul comes up with next!

Received ARC from Henry Holt and Co. via NetGalley.

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Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? explores racism, colorism within the Black community, lineage, and sexism in Hollywood. When the white Hollywood starlet Kitty Karr suddenly dies and leaves her multi-million dollar estate to the Black St. John sisters it raises some eyebrows. We learn more by spanning multiple generations and timelines, mostly Kitty in the past and Elise, a St. John sister, in the present.

This is an interesting read but it didn't quite hook me. Lot's to discuss for groups though which would make it a perfect book club pick.

Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt & Co for the ARC - Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? is out now!

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When Kitty Karr Tate, the old-Hollywood movie star dies and leaves her estate to her neighbors, the St. John sisters, people have questions. Since Kitty was white and the St. John sisters are black, race is one of the topics brought up in the conversation. Elise St. John was very close with Kitty but during her own investigation, starts to discover she may not have known her as well as she thought. The other point of view comes from Kitty herself, as we go back in time to her beginning and through her adulthood as a film star.

This one had a slower start for me but as we got deeper into Kitty's past I became more and more invested in how her story would unfold. Kitty's story is heartbreaking at times but an important one to be told regarding sexism and racism and the damage discrimination causes.

Thank you NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for allowing me access to an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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4/5 stars

Thank you Henry Holt & Co. and Macmillan Audio for the gifted advanced listening copy!

When the St. John sisters inherit famed actress Kitty Karr Tate's estate upon her death, everyone is utterly shocked. Why would white icon gift her entire wealth to three young, already-wealthy black women? As the sisters try to uncover the truth, we're taken back in time to Kitty's early life in the segregated south, ultimately leading to her rise to fame. The fabric of their lives is far more fragile than any of them think.

What a page-turner! I didn't know a ton about the plot going into this one, so it took me a second to get acquainted with the storyline and the various narrators/timelines. However, once I did, I couldn't stop listening! The flashbacks to Kitty's early life definitely carried this book; they were complex, emotional and riveting. Elise's portions of the book weren't as interesting to me, but were still relevant and relatively short so that we stayed locked-in to Kitty's complicated life. This book was a creative social critique depicting the complexities and atrocities inflicted on Black people in the United States, both in the past and present. With the old-Hollywood glam vibes of Evelyn Hugo and the intellectual fiction writing that's always appreciated, this is absolutely worth the read!

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Did you hear about Kitty Carr- Elise receives a generous estate from family celebrity friend Kitty. When going through Kittys diary, Elise uncovers secrets that could unravel her families lives. Thank you @henryholtbooks

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First, as a storyteller, I think this debut author has a lot of promise. Drawn in by the Evelyn Hugo comparison, I think this is an oversimplification- really the only thing the two novels have in common are they are both about women of color in Old Hollywood - the subject matter is really so very different!
Told from a 1930s-1950s and 2017 alternating timelines, centering around screen legend Kitty Karr leaving her enormous estate to her former co-star and neighbor’s children, the St. John’s sisters, with no explanation.
Without spoiling the entire plot line, which was a compelling one, it could have used a much sharper editor - there are too many extraneous characters who just serve to distract and confuse, and far too much dialogue and details that go on for pages on the most minute of points not integral to the story. The novel could have easily been 50-100 pages shorter to be more effective, I was kind of slogging through to the end.
Overall, probably a 2.75 stars, rounded up to 3 being the author’s first and an ambitious one at that.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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While this book is extremely popular due to it's connection to Reece's Book Club unfortunately this book wasn't for me. I was excited to dive in and immerse myself into Kitty Karr's life based on the comparison to Evelyn Hugo but I found that this story wasn't what I expected.

The writing, character development and timeline were well written but I found myself confused by the many characters entering the story in the beginning chapters. For me personally, it was a bit overwhelming, trying to keep up with each character, their place in the story and the family.

While the characters were written well I didn't feel a connection to them which is a very important factor for me when reading.

I do believe that this story will have a large audience and will entertain many.

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My goodness this book was great. I could have read the whole thing in one sitting, but didn't have that kind of time. Everytime i picked it up, i couldn't put it down. I loved the flashbacks between the fifties and the present, it allowed for us to live through the decisions and hardships of kitty and her mother as well as figure out who she really was.

It was beautifully written, eye opening and i can't wait to see what the author writes next.

Thank you netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Did You Hear About Kitty Karr is a wonderful story told in 2 timelines, the golden age of Hollywood and the present time. A story of secrets and protecting yourself through lies and pretenses. A story of a racism in the past and present time.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC for an honest review.

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I had no idea what this book was about when I started it, but I am sure glad I read it! A multigenerational story about three sisters, their mom, and next door neighbor. Extremely eye opening.

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An amazing story with a dual timeline that intertwines the history of those seeking their racial identity and trying to survive in the adult world. Elise St. John is a Black celebrity in Hollywood and she and her sisters have soared to more celebrity status as they have been made heirs to a multimillion dollar estate of a recluse White Hollywood star who lived next door. The press is clamoring to know the connection and understand why. And Elise's mother is no help, although she seems to be harboring a secret. As the executor of the estate, Elise uncovers Kitty's journals and the secrets of her past. The story itself was far more entertaining and interesting as we hear Kitty's story of growing up, surviving in a segregated world, and passing over into a world of whiteness. But at what cost to her? And was she happy? Kitty was the daughter of Hazel, a maid in a White prominent household, and the product of a rape by the son in a Southern home. Her mother groomed her to one day rise above her community, and pass over into the White culture. Many books lately have been written with this common theme, but that aside, I found myself easily reading this story as it carried me on. For a debut novel, I I found it well-written and detailed as it followed Kitty's story. Elise's story was merely the vehicle for which Kitty's story was told in context. A good read, but not great read as there are other books out there with the same themes of racial identity and family, Even so, I did enjoy it, and would say yes, read this one as the theme of choosing to seek what is perceived as an easier path in life is a sad commentary on yesterday and today's society. But there is always a cost.
Many thanks to #netgalley, #didyouhearaboutkittykelly #henryholtandsons for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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I'm giving this 2.5 stars. I struggled with this book. Let me start off by saying that themes of race, passing, Jim Crow laws/era and being black in America, whether it's now or in the past are all very relevant topics and a part of history. Having said that, this storyline of black women trying to or having to pass as white has been way overdone in the past year or two. If I hadn't recently read multiple books on this subject, I may have enjoyed this one a lot more.

Besides the overdone storyline, there were a few other aspects that didn't work out for me. First, there were too many POVs, making it confusing at times. It would often get jumbled and I had to re-read certain chapters to make sense of it all. This is a slow burn book, so it took awhile to get into the story. The book was too long and I struggled with the execution. The writing itself left alot to be desired. I really could not relate to the St. John sisters. You are already millionaires, who just inherited more millions and they were unhappy, ungrateful and overall seemed miserable in their lives.

While the storyline is one that's been overdone, it was still an interesting and intense story. The decisions that Kitty and her mom had to make, the historical aspects of this book, were thought provoking and heart breaking. The book does deliver on an interesting twist of who Kitty Karr was and why she left her inheritance to the St. John sisters, even if some of it was predictable.

My thanks to Crystal Smith Paul, Henry Holt & Co. and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you so much NetGalley for this ARC. I am always intrigued by books about an infamous celebrity, and this book did not disappoint. The story focuses on three sisters whose Mom acted with the infamous Kitty Karr, and who were raised in her mansion. When Kitty dies, she leaves her billion dollar fortune to the three sisters, much to the dismay of their Mother and the public. We learn about Kitty's backstory and how she became the legend the world saw her as. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who liked "The Secret Lives of Evelyn Hugo" , and enjoy the story of Kitty.

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As many others, this book captured my attention due to the similarities to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I found that, while it was enjoyable and quick to get through, the story was messy and a bit confusing to follow. So many big, important plot things happened but were only briefly mentioned, which made me have to do several double takes. The modern day plot was also much less interesting than the historical plotline; however, I think the author knew this and made sure to give us a majority of Kitty's life story in the middle without a present day break, which was nice considering I got nervous towards the end of each chapter, afraid the next one would punt us into the present.
All in all, not the best written, but a very solid debut. I will definitely be looking out to see what Crystal Smith Paul does next!

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