Audiobook Review: South on Highland by Liana Maeby

51yljue2k9l-_sx332_bo1204203200_Here’s the thing about all those daily e-book deal emails, every once in a while one comes along that sounds interesting.

That was the case when I saw South on Highland by Liana Maeby. I can’t recall what email I saw it in, but I thought: “This sounds like a good listen. Let’s see how it goes.”

We meet Layla Massey at a Passover seder, where she’s ditched the hunt for the afikoman to raid the medicine cabinet for prescription pharmaceuticals, where she causes a hail of pills in rain down on the floor before hitting her head against a toilet.

That’s rock bottom for Layla, and the book continues to describe her teenage addiction, and her budding career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. South on Highland is a cautionary tale that details the perils of additions with raw and haunting prose.

I didn’t know anything about South on Highland going in. I didn’t look at any reviews or look up the author. I just dove straight and started listening. My initial response was: “Hmm this sounds a bit like Go Ask Alice.” It wasn’t until I sat down to write this review that I realized that this book is a fictionalized account of Liana Maeby’s own addiction. Then I started to wonder if this was a bit more like Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

Layla Massey’s story is that of a Hollywood fairytale. She’s eighteen and writing adaptations of fairy tales with gender-swapped heroes for teen networks while she’s still in college. Her prodigy-like status makes me almost envious but at the same time, I worried about her.

At a certain point, I just had to accept the ridiculously good-luck this messed-up teen had, or otherwise I would have spent the entire six hours saying, “Really? How often does that happen?”

There were some great quotes in the book, priceless moments that made me question if I should laugh, cry, or smack the narrator with a big Monty Python fish!


I found Maeby’s prose beautiful, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about Amy Rubinate’s narration at first. Her voice was static and hollow, and although it did have some emotion, I found it hard to connect with her as she told Layla’s story. Since Layla is very disinterested for most of the book, her presentation actually fit really well.


South on Highland by Liana Maeby is now available. You can purchase a copy through Book Depository, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookseller

You can pick up an audiobook through Audible,, or Book Depository

You can add South on Highland to your Goodreads list here


Published by Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser is a fiction writer and essayist. She is an associate editor at Tell-Tale TV, where she writes about all things tv. She has had fiction appear in five : 2 : one magazine’s #thesideshow and her nonfiction has appeared in Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. You can find her talking about tv, film, and knitting on Twitter @LaurenBusser.

3 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: South on Highland by Liana Maeby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: