The High Moments is a fully engrossing story that reinforces the fact that the grass isn’t always greener.

Scarlett hails from a small town in Devon. She longs to escape to London, get away from her mother, and become a fashion designer. Without any plan as to what she will do when she gets there, she goes to London and she manages to get herself a job at a model agency, dealing with the bookings with a view to becoming an agent herself.

From the off I wanted Scarlett to remember that being a model agent wasn’t what she wanted to do. But I also knew that it was a starting block, a better than nothing situation. I struggled at times to take to Scarlett; she’s young, she’s inexperienced, she makes terrible decisions, she wants people to like her and tends to be a bit two-faced to achieve it. Instagram followers are more important to her than doing the right thing. And yet I could see that underneath all that she was vulnerable, in a strange new world of fashionistas, drugs and parties, being led astray whilst revelling in her newfound freedom and feeling flushed with success.

In all honesty, when I started this read I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I didn’t feel like the target audience and didn’t gel immediately with Scarlett. But as I read on I started to become absolutely caught up in her life (car crash that it seemed to be) and genuinely hoped for the best for her. I was also totally absorbed in the model agency world, about which the author writes from experience. I can categorically say that that world would never be for me but what a ride to follow Scarlett’s initiation into the competitive and often shallow environment.

I really enjoyed Sara-Ella Ozbek’s writing. She managed to make me feel sympathetic towards Scarlett whilst also disliking her behaviour for a fair amount of the story. Her other characters are sharp and jump off the page, and I was fully immersed in the model agency setting. This is a slice of life story about a young woman in her 20s who wants to make it but goes on a rather circuitous route to find herself. I thought it was an excellent debut from Ozbek which felt very current and very stylish.

Review Nicola Smith, Short Books and Scribes

Simon & Schuster UK 17/09/2020
ISBN: 978-1471187971