From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kristin Harmel: When You Wish

After reading Italian For Beginners, I knew I wanted to read other books by Kristin Harmel. As my blog revolves mostly around YA fiction, I picked up her first YA novel, When You Wish.

Star Beck is pop royalty (think: Britney Spears). She's got the skintight, sparkly wardrobe, personal trainer, dietician, rabid fans, equally rabid paparazzi following her every move, auto-tuned vocals, and sold out concerts complete with video monitors, slick choreography, and pyrotechnic spectacles to prove it.

There's also a fauxmance with the reigning prince of pop, Jesse Bishop, that managers manipulate to get as much press and publicity as possible for their clients' upcoming projects (think: Heidi & Spencer).

Oh, yeah, and a controlling Mom who acts as her Manager (or, to drop a term we used--sarcastically--at work every day: Momager), setting up photo opportunities during mother-daughter shopping trips, wearing a wire during private lunches so magazines can get exclusives, creating a generous salary for herself, and lying to Star about her absentee father.

During an interview with Dial magazine, Star learns that her father has been trying to contact her for years. Star is shocked. And angry. Her solution? She disguises herself (think: Hannah Montana) and travels to Florida to find him.

What happens next is Star's attempt at a "normal" life, an encounter with a boy who might like her for more than fame and fortune, and a lot of growing up.

Each chapter begins with lyrics from Star Beck's catalog of hit songs, but, as I read the book, I couldn't get Britney Spears's "Lucky" out of my head. That's good because it's a perfect soundtrack to the story. That's bad because I really, really don't like Britney or that song.

Though predictable, I enjoyed reading about Star's "normal" life and watching her pick herself up, learn from her mistakes, and discover what she wants and who she needs.

Kristin Harmel is a reporter for People magazine, and her knowledge of pop culture added an authenticity to the story. I hope she writes more YA novels.

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