Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: Stars Collide

Stars Collide. Janice Thompson. 2011. [January 2011] Revell. 324 pages.

"You want me to kiss him...where?" I stared at my director, hoping I'd somehow misunderstood his last-minute change to the script. 
A look of exasperation crossed his face. "On the lips, of course. This is a family show, Kat. Remember?"
"Of course." I nodded and fought to keep my breathing even as I rephrased the question. "I mean, where in the scene? Beginning, middle, or end? What's my cue?"

Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy star in Janice Thompson's Stars Collide, a light-hearted romance novel set on and off set in Beverly Hills. Kat's grandmother, Lenora Worth, was somebody...once. A glamorous movie star. However, when readers meet her, she has lost touch almost completely with reality.

Her granddaughter helps her grandmother stay in her fantasy world, when it suits her, which is most of the time. If her grandmother is stuck in the fifties and sixties, it's fine with her. If her grandmother thinks that the characters in television shows are real, are her friends, it's fine with her. But Kat is about to start caring when her grandmother begins confusing KK's fictional love life (on TV) with reality. Scott Murphy is Jack--in her mind, in her heart, though that is just the role he plays on the family-friendly sitcom. When Lenora Worth starts talking to the paparazzi, however, Kat realizes how embarrassing, how damaging this fantasy world could be.

For Kat's "secret love" is no secret anymore. Though Kat and Scott have been single for the three seasons they've been filming the show, they're only now taking (baby) steps to reveal to one another how they really feel. Angie and Jack's first kiss, is Scott and Kat's first kiss, and their romance is all-too-real. Sweet, gentle, tender. And embarrassing. For with Lenore's mind being what it is--it's going to be moving quickly. Scott and his family are understanding--perhaps a little too understanding under the circumstances.

I'll be honest. This novel was a little too cute, too sweet, too something for me. As a romance, it didn't quite work for me. (Though I think it would have worked if I'd been ten or twelve. Just like Angie and Jack's relationship is written to make the kids of the show all silly, all giddy.) Kat and Scott's "real" romance felt too rushed, a bit underdeveloped, and their on-stage romance felt too gimmicky, too forced. It felt believable--as a bad sitcom.

As a family drama, the novel worked a bit better. We get a glimpse of Kat's reaction to her grandmother's declining mental health. But just a glimpse. It's more selfish than concerned, in my opinion. My grandmother is embarrassing me; my grandmother could be jeopardizing my relationship with Scott. Perhaps, that response is authentic. But. I think feeling overwhelmed or worried would have been more honest. A wow, my grandmother is really losing the ability to function, to reason. Her memory loss is dramatically worsening week by week. If it continues deteriorating...what will happen. Now, Kat could authentically be in denial. Refusing to admit how serious this is. And denial might be completely valid in this situation. And if that is what Thompson was trying to show, then it worked well, I suppose. I just felt there were things that Kat was not being honest with herself about.

I did enjoy the movie references of the grandmother. How much Lenora loved Doris Day and "Secret Love." The references to Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and other glamorous movie stars of the day, etc.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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