Title: Catch a Falling Star
Author: Kim Culbertson
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter’s town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam’s girlfriend while he’s in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn’t at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what’s real and what’s fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds – her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?
I’ve read and reviewed a lot of books, in a lot of genres, but this book had two things I generally never feel drawn to: romance as a main theme, and contemporary setting. I couldn’t tell you what drew me to it in the first place, which probably means a friend reviewed it favorably and I was intrigued. Or the fact that it takes place in a small mountain town near Tahoe, CA (for the first 30 years or my life, our family spent a week of every summer at a rustic mountain cabin near Tahoe, so I know the setting well).
Suffice to say, I expected meh and was pleasantly surprised. Culbertson manages a realistic balance between romance and reality, and does so without demonizing any single character. I’ll be honest- one of the reasons I avoid romance, and contemporary YA, is that so much of it feels like Hollywood marketing, and I like my novels bittersweet. This novel is bittersweet. It does have some movie-esque romance, which keeps the theme hopeful. But it also deals with addiction, marketing and image (publicity, public relations, etc.), and revolves around a character who is happy with her life and with having little to no ambition.
Although I was not nearly as Hufflepuff as Carter Moon is, I could relate to her struggle between her dream and others’ expectation of her regarding it. She’s the kind of quiet, observant, self-possessed character that I’ve only encountered in shallow representation. And crawling inside her head, as the narrator of the story, felt very genuine.
Also, I’ll be honest, I was bemused by the very realistic portrayals of movie making. Having had years as a background actress (on TV, granted, not movies), it always tickles me to see that bizarro life and working environment played out realistically.
I think this book will be a definite win for fans of contemporary YA with realistic romance, but given my impressions, it’ll probably be a nice story for those who don’t normally reach for that genre, too.
(as far as the audiobook version goes, it was just ok. The female narrator doesn’t do a good job of differentiating the voices, so there were times the dialogue had me confused, and the intro and epilogue are poorly mixed with music underlying the narration. But the story was good enough to keep me listening, despite that.)