Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
A golden age of glam . . .
Every week they arrive in Los Angeles--beautiful and talented young hopefuls who dream of becoming stars. It's all Margaret Frobisher has ever wanted—and when she's discovered by a powerful agent, she can barely believe her luck. She's more than ready to escape her snobby private school and conservative Pasadena family for a chance to light up the silver screen.
The competition is fierce at Olympus Studios and Margaret—now Margo—is chasing her Hollywood dreams alongside girls like Gabby Preston, who at 16 is already a grizzled show-biz veteran caught between the studio and the ravenous ambition of her ruthless mother, and sultry Amanda Farraday, who seems to have it all--ambition, glamour . . . and dirty secrets. Missing from the pack is Diana Chesterfield, the beautiful actress who mysteriously disappeared, and there are whispers that Diana's boyfriend—Margo's new co-star—may have had something to do with it. Margo quickly learns that fame comes with a price, and that nothing is what it seems.
Set in Old Hollywood, Starstruck follows the lives of three teen girls as they live, love, and claw their way to the top in a world where being a star is all that matters.
As a big fan of historical fiction books and old movies, Starstruck seemed like the perfect book for me. When I read the summary for the first time, I'm pretty sure I squealed with delight. It sounded so wonderful and glamorous, and I couldn't wait to dive in. I realized early on that Starstruck was going to be just as amazing as I thought it would be.
The story alternates from the perspectives of three different girls, and each one of them is so wildly different from the others. They all have totally different lifestyles and experiences, but the transition from one girl to another is smooth and seamless. The book changes perspectives at just the right moments, and I can't imagine the story being told in any other format.
At first, it might seem like Margaret, Amanda, and Gabby have nothing in common, but they are all victims of the brutal and ugly life of show business and Hollywood. On the surface, I'd say that none of the girls are very likable. It took me awhile before I started to feel like I could relate to them, but once I did, I realized just how fantastic and layered the characters really are. Even though I began the book not really liking any of the main characters, I ended the book caring about each of them as deeply as if they were my friends. As they each went on their respective journeys throughout the novel, I held my breath in anticipation as I waited for the moment when they would finally just be happy. Each of the girls started the book in a bit of a frightening place, but by the end, they all learned something and I think they grew and transformed into even better people than they were before.
More than anything else, the story in Starstruck is dramatic. It makes sense, of course, since there is always going to be drama everywhere you turn in Hollywood. But what I love about Starstruck is that none of the drama seems silly or dumb. It's not a matter of teenage girls fighting with each over stupid things that don't mean anything. The problems the girls face are 100 percent real and raw and realistic.
Rachel Shukert captures the glamour and excitement of old-school Hollywood perfectly, in addition to some of the darker and grittier elements of the world of fortune and fame. At first, everything about the world of film-making and movie premieres and stardom seemed absolutely magical to me, but as the story progressed, secrets were uncovered and the truth was revealed. As it turns out, Hollywood in the 1930s was not the idyllic place I liked to think it was. The entire story had a dark, edgy feel to it, set in a world that seems nothing but cheerful from the outside.
From the first page, Starstruck captured my attention and wouldn't let go. I was sucked into this compelling story, and I couldn't stop myself from turning page after page long after I'd told myself I would put the book down. Starstruck is fun and shiny and glamorous, but also heartbreaking. It's a beautiful combination, and I loved every minute of it.