Mini review: This book started like a Louise Rennison, had a middle like a TV soap and an ending like a Juno Dawson. Solid B.
[This review was made possible by NetGalley.com]
It’s safe to say that any book that starts out along a similar vein to a Louise Rennison or Meg Cabot and I’m going to be 100% on board, this did not disappoint. Whilst I have not yet read the previous three in the series, Star Struck worked well enough as a stand-alone that it didn’t matter I had no clue who everyone was or what they looked like. A good strong opening is all you need and Pearl was certainly a girl you wanted to get to know, a cheeky 16-year-old smoker who the teachers hate to love she’s every bad girl turned good a British YA novel needs.
I gobbled this book up in just a few hours (turns out the kindle app learns how quickly you read and gives you little counter of how long you have left in time, not just percent you are through.) following Pearl along on a journey of misadventures towards love in the school play, you could just feel her learning herself and why she is the “mean girl” of the class. Why does she immediately have her guard up against newcomer Hoshi? Is it just the she’s been beaten out to the dream part of Juliet or is it just that she needs to know more?
In the days of just googling someone you come across these teens sure do know how to give the stink-eye and reciprocate when they think you’re in the wrong; with the adorable half-Japanese Hoshi both in and out of the spotlight all at once, never thinking about being anything other than utterly charming.
The plot itself is, as you’d expect, pretty simple. New girl gets the best part in the play, our protagonist glares daggers for weeks determined to become her frenemy but it all falls by the wayside as a dirty trick turns into an evening of the most fun ever: busting a move in Covent Garden to get money for the train home. I’m glad that what could’ve been a simple story garnered depth as we learn that Pearls home life, which seems pretty typical lower wage single parent to start with, is more than it seems with a mentally & physically abusive brother who has a penchant for breaking things an blaming Pearl. This culminates in a scene that has you sobbing with horror at midnight when your husband is asleep next to you as Alfie her brother does the unspeakable to a cup of tea (I won’t spoilers too much here but what you feel is bound to happen during the course of the book happens. Twice.)
The entire story is tied up nicely with the girls sharing a kiss in the starlight and Pearl getting what is arguably a better role in the play than Juliet. Even her mum makes good in the end. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable few hours of my time and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs a good laugh, cry or a memory of ten years ago reading those slightly too rude books by torchlight under your duvet when you have school in the morning.