Leah Rachel may still be finding her voice in the early stages of her career, but she’s quickly attaining the recognition she deserves. As the writer (and creator) of Chambers, Netflix’s recent horror series about a girl whose heart transplant goes awry, Rachel’s definitely got chops for writing scary stories, but her true writing interests lie elsewhere.
On her Instagram page @theyellowhairedgirl (named presumably for her Lichtenstein-esque avatar) Rachel pairs pulp magazine scenes with contemporary captions, illuminating women’s dating/working/existing woes. She continues that writing tradition in her first book, Love Street: Pulp Romance for Modern Women (William Morrow).
In Love Street, Rachel describes experiences she’s had and experiences that will be recognizable to many women. Being ghosted by a crush! Having unfulfilling sex! Getting crudely hit on by (male) family friends!
The latter example is poignantly described in a short list of the reasons why Rachel wore a particular dress to a wedding. There are fifteen solid reasons listed, including the blue color of the dress, which made Rachel feel “like a really pretty, unpretentious big-city Jew” and the fact that her ex was in attendance with his pregnant girlfriend.
You know what’s not a reason she wore that dress? So she’d be harassed: the account of this upsetting encounter is capped by her best friend’s father suggesting that if she didn’t want to be harassed, “Then why did you wear a dress like that?” Rachel highlights this with a strikethrough, one of many stylistic choices she makes in this book.
Just like Rachel’s Instagram, Love Street is populated by full-color images, some pulled from vintage romance magazines, others taken by her and her friends. They’re all gorgeously printed, run through plastic lens filters and plastered with fonts of a different vintage, resulting in an anachronistic, lo-fi image set that’s a joy to flip through.
Other sections include: recipes (for the brokenhearted/busy/lost/etc.), advice Q&As (“If a guy tells you you should smile more, tell him he should be alive less,” Rachel writes, “Dump him and move to Europe. Frown and vape and wear black and be happier than ever.”), crossword puzzles with clues like “That weird hour of night when it’s too early to call off work and too late to text your ex” and essays of varying lengths, the briefest and perhaps saddest ending “I want to relapse. I’m never getting coffee with you ever again, because we used to be in love. The end.”
All these eclectic entries together tell a story of failures, screw-ups and memories fond and abhorred. Love Street might not come with answers to your burning questions about love, sex and retro cars, but that’s kind of the point.
Rachel wraps up an essay about an impromptu road trip to Dollywood by suggesting that she and her friend need to “slow down and stop trying to put ourselves back together when we were clearly falling apart.” That’s what this book is about. Slowing down, assessing, and going forth into the unknown. Because, like a blind date who turns out to be your ex (as occurs in an anecdote included in one Mad Libs-inspired section), the future is all unknown.
Love Street is now available.
About Leah Rachel
Leah Rachel lives in Laurel Canyon, CA. She spends her days writing, fantasizing, and messing up her relationships. She has written movies and television shows for Universal, Lionsgate, Amazon, and HBO. She is currently working on the Netflix series Chambers starring Uma Thurman, which she created and wrote. In addition to all that name-dropping Hollywood f*ckery, Leah’s alter-ego, @TheYellowHairedGirl has become one of her most honest and fulfilling artistic expressions.