Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Shooting Stars

Allison Rushby
Contemporary Young Adult
272 pages
Walker Children's Books
Available Now
Received via NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

The synopsis for Shooting Stars suggests we’ll get a fairly predictable tale of a young woman who sets out to accomplish one goal but inevitably realizes said goal no longer holds the appeal it did initially, and while it certainly is that, Ms. Rushby does add substance and a few twists that reduce the overall predictability to give us a pleasantly intriguing read. While we aren’t necessarily astounded by creative brilliance or floored by the poetic depth of the characters, we are given a quick and fun plot that’s perfect for those days when we just want a brief disconnect from our lives that doesn’t weigh us down with drama or overwhelm us with emotion, but rather allows us to sink into a story, enjoy ourselves, and then return to our lives with a smile of contentment.

Jo, also known as Paparazzo Jo or Zo Jo for short, is a surprisingly mature sixteen year-old, almost entirely on her own as her paparazzo father spends weeks at a time exploring business ventures overseas. She’s easy to like and easy to respect as guilt settles heavily on her shoulders from the very beginning over the job she’s assigned, and our respect for her only continues to grow as she battles internally with what she knows in her gut and heart is wrong, and externally with a woman who seems to have very little heart at all. She’s always thinking, not in a conniving or scheming way, but more in a remarkably adult way as she tries to absorb all the information she can before she makes a decision we know will profoundly hurt someone else.

Though this is a shorter story coming in under three hundred pages, the romantic element doesn’t feel rushed or forced, progressing at a nice pace that’s cute and believable without any added teenage angst or melodrama. Ned matches Jo in maturity–the circumstances of their lives forcing them to grow up far quicker than their peers—and as a result their conversations feel more meaningful than we expect initially, bringing a smile to our faces as we bask in the genuineness of their interactions despite the monstrous lie wedged snugly between them. The tension created by the large elephant following them room to room in the retreat flutters incessantly in our guts the entire time we read, our sweet romantic haze tempered by our nervousness over the impending showdown when Ned learns the truth of Jo’s presence, giving us just enough of a bite to the story to keep us interested and emotionally involved.

Ms. Ashby tosses a few twists in toward the end, events unfolding in a way we don’t necessarily see coming (at least I didn’t), and delighting us with a bit of a new direction when we had already resigned ourselves to an easily foreseeable conclusion. Cute, quick, and light, Shooting Stars is the perfect palate cleanser before starting or after finishing a richer and heavier story.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Cute, quick and light! That is the perfect description for this story! I really enjoyed it but I was hoping for a little more drama along the way. You know, a little tension to make the ending more exciting.

    It was a cute read and I liked it :))

  2. Sounds like a perfect summer read. Yes, I'm thinking of summer since winter and spring skipped us. I'm wondering if the pool is going to open earlier this year. I'm already deciding which books to take and after that excellent review I bet I could finish that one in one afternoon. I'll just have to do without the drama. There will be enough at the pool.


  3. This sounds like a surprisingly fun book. Even though books like these don't break new ground, I enjoy getting what I'm looking for out of them. It's nice that this isn't totally predictable.

  4. I have been wanting to read this book ,,, actually it is in my to read shelf ,,, GREAT REVIEW :) happy to hear it is a good book

  5. Hehe Jenny, you know how much I love these cute and quick and light books -- so look at this book, all shining and bright like a star on my radar now! x) I'm really glad that the romance in this book isn't rushed, even though it's pretty short. That tends to be a hard thing to do with shorter books nowadays, but Jo and Ned sound absolutely smile-worthy, in my opinion! And YAY for mature teenagers! :)

    (They always make me feel much better than the books with the immature teens LOL!)

    Amazing review, Jenny! :) <3

  6. This doesnt sound so bad, Ive heard mixed reviews about this book and your reviews only made me more interested though you didnt love love this book atleast you kind of enjoyed it.Great review Jenny.x


  7. I love quick, cute, and light! They are the best afternoon reads and they usually leave you smiling! How very cool that you came across a wonderfully told one.

  8. Im always looking for little fun light stories to break up the heavy stuff I read...Ill have to add this one to the "Light and Fluffy" pile...:)

  9. This one is new to me. I'll keep it in mind when I want a quick but satisfying read.

  10. Danny - I was expecting a little more drama when Jo's identity was revealed, but I kind of liked how it was handled. It definitely was a cute read:)

    Heather - It is! Nothing profound, but sweet and enjoyable just the same.

    Alison - I wasn't expecting much from it and was pleasantly surprised:)

    Lilly - Glad you enjoyed the review, I hope you get a chance to read the book!

    Mimi - I agree, the romance usually feels rushed to me in shorter books by default, but I liked how this one played out.

    Lalaine - I did enjoy it, and sometimes that's enough:) I don't need a mind-blowing book every time!

    Felicia - Exactly! I knew this book wouldn't stress me out and I'd most likely end up happy, and that was definitely the case.

    Tina - Me too. This was a nice in between books to give me a break from the more dramatic stories.

    Jennifer - It's perfect for that:)

  11. I tried this one and couldn't get into the story. I put it down several times and completely forgot about it when my ARC copy expired. I don't think I was in the right mood for it. I might try it again. Sometimes you need a light book. :)

  12. It is that. I felt like this book bathed me and rinsed out anything that was causing me to tense or other.

    "our sweet romantic haze tempered by our nervousness over the impending showdown when Ned learns the truth of Jo’s presence, giving us just enough of a bite to the story to keep us interested and emotionally involved."

    That was my main problem with the story, though. I feel like Ashby ripped away that showdown, since Ned doesn't really react to her unveiling. That was the disappointment.


  13. Rummanah - That happens to me sometimes, I just can't focus on a book so I need to move on:)

    Asher - I kind of liked that there wasn't a big dramatic showdown, it was refreshing for me. I wasn't in the mood for drama though, so that's why it didn't bother me:)

  14. I'm not much for contemp YA, but adding something creative and I'm more likely to read it. Looks like this one is one of them I would read. Plus, with it being light and short has it's appeal. I'm surprised the romance didn't feel forced being so short. Nice!

  15. I am on the fence whether or not I will read this, sometimes contemporary YA just isn't for me, but I am interested in the Paparazzi angle, that is something I have never delved into. Glad this is a quick, cute, light read, I may give it a try :)

  16. Sounds cute and I like the different setting. So yes I think I would enjoy it. Not love it, but enjoy it

  17. Dawwwww! You're right. Palate cleaners are a necessity for every reader, I think because who doesn't enjoy a little refreshing break? And why is it that slow building romances always call to me? I guess I just a sucker for that delightful tension building, especially the innocent kind. :)

  18. This sounds like a good one to read for a bit of a breather from my TBR pile. Brilliant review! A light and cute read is exactly what I need sometimes. :)

  19. This was a really quick, cute read! I mean, the blurb grabbed my attention but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. Zo was adorable and reminds me of some of my more driven students. The dad, though, drove me nuts. I mean, really? Your kid might be self-sufficient but she's still just 16. You don't leave her alone and leave the country. Sheesh.

  20. Nice review Jenny! I love the turn of events in this book. Not at all what I was expecting.

  21. I don't think I've seen this one before but I will never get tired of the cute and light reads so will have to remember this one.

  22. I can never get tired of "cute, quick, and light." I've got this one in my TBR pile for a day when I'm feeling lazy :)

  23. I love YA contemporaries so I might give this one a try. Is the teenage celebrity in rehab for drugs? That would be a dilemma for the heroin(e) hee hee.

  24. This sounds like the kind of read I could use right now. Ive been in the mood for a lighter kind of read. And this one sounds different to me. Glad you liked it!

  25. You summed it up just perfectly with your review highlighting how the actual book contains slightly more depth than the synopsis would lead us to believe. Due to reviews, I knew I would be getting more than "just" a light contemporary and it made it all the more enjoyable for me. Great review!