Saturday, June 21, 2014
Review: Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Review: Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Release date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Length: 304 pages
Rating: I loved this! What a lovely, entertaining summer read. Plus, FAKE DATING.
A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.
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 bought this book partially on a whim and partially because I just love this kind of fluffy, modern-Cinderella story. Blame Notting Hill. Blame Teen Idol. Hell, blame Camp Rock, if you want to. I love them all. I could read/watch these types of stories for... well...
And while this book is definitely that, it's got quite a bit more heart than I was expecting, and was actually way funnier. I am so glad I listened to that whim, because I really enjoyed Catch a Falling Star in a way I was not expecting, and here's why:
Carter Moon: Our improbably named main character is funny. Oh, is she funny. She made me laugh so many times and was really the reason I became so engrossed in this book. She's the rare small-town girl who loves living in her small town and never wants to leave. Her friends call her a Hobbit, since she's content to stay in the Shire. She's mature, private, has a dog named Extra Pickles, and I love her. She very easily could have fallen into a lot of cliches, but she always felt very real to me.
Little, California: I LOVE reading about small towns, probably because I grew up in the polar opposite of a small town, and Carter's hometown is like a NorCal version of Stars Hollow (so maybe kinda more like that town in Bunheads), and I loved it. It's full of history, charm, and quirks. It has colorful characters, but it's just one stop short of zany, which keeps it anchored in the real world.
Chloe and Alien Drake: Carter's best friends are funny, supportive, and healthy. They also feel real, even though Drake being nicknamed Alien Drake due to his obsession with the sky and the cosmos and the possibility of life beyond is a bit strange. And again, Chloe--bubbly, celebrity-obsessed Chloe--could very easily have fallen into cliches, but she didn't. I loved her and her close friendship with Carter.
Adam Jakes: ADAM. Movie star bad boy, man of many faces and facades. I found him very interesting. He's been in some tabloid trouble lately and needs an image rehabilitation. That's where Carter comes in. Adam is in Little to film a family friendly Christmas movie and needs a wholesome small-town girlfriend to complete the do-gooder image. Carter, immune to the lure of Hollywood and doer of community service, is the perfect choice.
Carter's family: And behold the reason Carter agrees to be Adam Jakes' fake boyfriend for money. Her parents are wonderfully present and supportive, but her brother, John, has an addictive gambling problem, and it's tearing the family apart. Carter needs the money to help him.
The swoons: So then Carter and Adam begin fake date, and I began to squeal like a Directioner at a One Direction concert because OMG. I loved how much they truly did not like each other to start. Adam is self-absorbed. He's far from perfect. He's a different Adam to every person he encounters. He struggles with telling the truth. He loves acting and performing and playing to an audience. Carter does not.
But of course they come to UNDERSTAND each other and it's ADORABLE and Carter begins to get confused about what's real and what's not and yessssss so much yesssssss. Plus you get to learn a bit how movies are made and how much work it is, and Carter gets a taste of what being famous is like, and also chemistry. And funnies. And banter. Gillian like. But will things turn out? Will this be Model Behavior, or will it be Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! or even The Lizzie McGuire Movie? (I told you I really like it that famous person/regular person dating trope) (though not as much as I love the fake dating trope)
Only tiny niggles: the stargazing blog that she runs with Alien Drake (still a silly name) is slightly unnecessary, there might have been ooooone beat missing in Carter and Adam's relationship, and every now and then the writing would pull away from the dialogue. What I mean by that is we'd be listening to two characters talking in quotation marks, and all of a sudden Carter would summarize what it is she said. As in, "I told him about X and Y" instead of just showing us telling him, like she was just doing. It's just a personal niggle, but that always tends to jerk me out of the immediate action.
But those are small points. Honestly, I couldn't put this book down. It hit me at just the right time and in just the right way. A truly delightful summer read, and I hope you give it a try! It totally took me by surprise.