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The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan
Contemporary fiction

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Elissa R. Sloan, on your first book!

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by Elissa R. Sloan

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Quick take

A journey through the dark side of pop music that illustrates the dangers and tragedies that come with celebrity.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish



Cassidy Holmes isn't just a celebrity.

She is “Sassy Gloss,” the fourth member of the hottest pop group America has ever seen. Hotter than Britney dancing with a snake, hotter than Christina getting dirrty, Gloss was the pop act that everyone idolized. Fans couldn't get enough of them, their music, and the drama that followed them like moths to a flame—until the group’s sudden implosion in 2002. And at the center of it all was Sassy Cassy, the Texan with a signature smirk that had everyone falling for her.

But now she's dead. Suicide.

The world is reeling from this unexpected news, but no one is more shocked than the three remaining Glossies. Fifteen years ago, Rose, Merry, and Yumi had been the closest to Cassidy, and this loss is hitting them hard. Before the group split, they each had a special bond with Cassidy—truths they told, secrets they shared. But after years apart, each of them is wondering: what could they have done?

Told in multiple perspectives—including Cassidy herself—and different timelines, this is a behind-the-scenes look into the rise and fall of a pop icon, and a penetrating examination of the dark side of celebrity and the industry that profits from it.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of self-harm and assault.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes.
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes


The day that Cassidy died, the rest of us were in London.

The three of us were good-naturedly receiving some ribbing from DJ “Dashing Jed” on the U.K.’s third-tier radio spot. Earlier in the day, Emily had made sure that the typical ground rules were laid out: Don’t talk about Merry’s family. Don’t talk about Rose’s most recent visit to rehab. Don’t pry into my failed marriage. And, most of all, don’t mention Cassidy, our vacant fourth.

The cubby we sat in was well worn, with yellow carpet up the walls, and a sharp scent of dampness or mold, like someone had trod into the room with wet rain boots and shut the door without letting it air out. The deejay sat next to Merry, who was drawing hearts on the table with the eraser end of a pencil.

“So, ladies, you appear in the new Stan Harold movie, Lunch at Midnight. Tell me, how was your experience on set with Stan?”

Rose leapt to take the lead, as she always did. “It was wonderful working with Stan. I’ve seen all of his films since the mid-nineties, so it was an honor having a part in his new movie.” She was smiling like she knew there was a camera secretly recording somewhere in the rows of equipment, but I’d stipulated that we not be videotaped before agreeing to do the radio show. I didn’t feel like having my weight discussed in the comments section of YouTube. I sat with Dashing Jed opposite me, elbows on the edge of the table and hands cradling my face.

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Why I love it

As always, but especially now, I love my evening escape: me, cozy in a nest of bedding with a bowl of ice cream, opening a great novel. From page one, I knew I was in for a treat with The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes, a fun story which reminded me of another favorite, Daisy Jones & The Six, and also brought to mind the tragic, relentless gossip-mag coverage of Britney Spears's meltdown.

The price of fame and fortune, especially for young women, is the theme at the heart of Elissa R. Sloan’s vibrant debut. Cassidy is a vulnerable young woman from Houston, Texas, who first finds stardom on a TV show vaguely reminiscent of American Idol. Overnight, she goes from talented nobody to A-list frontwoman of the internationally famous band Gloss in the blink of an eye. But she isn’t prepared for the costs of such rapid success: utter isolation and loneliness. Readers trace the pop group’s rise and fall through the eyes of Cassidy and her bandmates Rose, Merry, and Yumi. The novel leaps forward and backward in time, always keeping a taut narrative thread.

This story is witty, satirical, and insightful, but take heed: Its portrayal of the unsightly undertones of the music industry is devastatingly realistic. The author’s content warning states that this book’s contents include suicide, eating disorders, and physical and sexual assault. Yes, this novel is a heartbreaker, but it’s also a fantastic read. And I think we could all use that right now.

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Member ratings (14,672)

  • alexi a.

    el paso, TX

    Elisaa Sloan’s The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes was beautifully written and really captured the realities of the entertainment business. This was a totally heartbreaking story, but so good! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Daynelle H.

    Saint Augusta, MN

    I really enjoyed getting to understand each character's perspective. There are a lot of heavy topics included, but the mindsets show a lot of truth. I like the realness of a non-happy ending. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Emily G.

    Ashland, OH

    I couldn’t put this down- I read it in two days. It covers some heavy issues that I don’t doubt Hollywood stars privately endure each and every day. Like other reviews, I devoured the 90’s nostalgia❤️

  • Rachelle H.

    Salem, OR

    Elissa R. Sloan emerges flawlessly as a debut author to follow. Her character development; roll out of the plot, and ability to tackle multiple social issues is superb! I’m ready for her next novel.❤️

  • Cori H.

    Commerce, TX

    Absolutely fantastic book! I don’t typically read books like this, but I am so glad I did. I couldn’t put it down, and I know I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. Dark, tragic, but just ending!

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