‘The fans scream for her, but they don’t really know the girl on the magazine covers – the girl with the guitar and the easy smile.’
After finishing with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. Reagan’s best friend and country superstar Lilah Montgomery is about to kick off her 24-city tour, and Lilah is nursing a broken heart of her own – so this is a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts.
But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence …
What I thought:
This book is pure contemporary YA escapism. When people often think of YA they imagine contemporary romance or coming of age/growing into yourself stories. And that’s what this one is. Make no mistake, it’s not a cliche, but there is no denying that cliches exist for a reason; because people enjoy them. people enjoy reading about stories where it might not be love at first sight or a perfect relationship but where love does exist, stories with strong and brilliant friendships, where people are able to grow stronger, where the characters feel real, where they have the same problems as us, where they can escape into a world that is similar enough that it’s easy to imagine.
Fantasy or sci-fi allow us to escape into other worlds, contemporary allows us to escape to a different faction of our own. When I was younger i would pretty much only read fantasy but i’ve found as I grow older the appeal of reading about other people in the ‘real world’ with their ‘normal’ problems has grown. This is the story of 17 year old Reagen going on a road trip with her best friend who also happens to be a famous singer. We’ve all imagine the best road trip with our friends and what our lives would be like if we were famous, or if someone we loved was famous. (At least I have. Me and my friends with the open road, good music, plenty of food? Sounds like bliss. Of course, we’d need to be able to driver – something I’ve not got round to yet – and sufficient time off work. But hey, a girl can dream!) But that’s what this book does, it allows you to live that dream.
Although romance is a massive part of this book, as well as the music industry and the invasiveness of the media, the thing that I took away from this wasn’t any of that. The thing that I remember, 2 months later while writing this review, is the friendship. It’s the solid friendship at the heart of this book between Dee and Reagan that makes me smile and think of this book fondly.
The two girls may argue, and they may know exactly what buttons to press. But at no point did I seriously think their friendship was in jeopardy. You could hear it in the shorthand they speak to each other in, in the way that Reagan knows exactly what Dee wants, in the way that she’s incapable of being truly jealous for her best friend in getting this fame. It’s there in the way that Dee makes sure Reagan comes on tour with her, in the way that she’s always keeping an eye on the wilder girl, the way that she tries to set Reagan and Matt up.
This friendship is between the two of them and in every interaction. And for me that’s what friendship is, it’s the in jokes and the shorthand, it’s the way that you automatically look out for them. And Emery Lord has been able to perfectly show it, it doesn’t feel forced, the love between them is just quietly there as they go about their lives.
So yes, I could talk about how the Dee’s agent decides to ‘leak’ the story about Dee and Matt being together to sell more records and gather interest. I could talk about the relationship between Matt and Reagan and how she’s got her barriers up from a previous abusive relationship. Personally I wasn’t too fussed about Matt as a character, but I can see his appeal. I enjoyed the difference between his two sides, the ‘famous’ one who grew up in the spotlight and knew how to work the papers and the fans, but who was subsequently not fully allowed to grow up, still having to keep his boyish image. His ‘real’ side was the side of the boy who had not been allowed to show grief because it would be in the papers, he’d clearly suffered from growing up famous but due to his love of music was determined to try and stick it out. Even if he wasn’t being allowed to play some of his newer more grown-up stuff. The contrast was well done, as well as the way he could slip between the two. But I felt at times like he was a bit generic, although I’m not sure which particular bit I wasn’t a fan of.
I could also talk about how the media does it’s best to show a 17 yr old (a legal CHILD) as a sexual being to sell newspapers – something that we all know exists but isn’t right and feels icky and a violation as you see how Dee reacts to it. Per
But the friendship is so much more important to this book, it’s the concrete that the house is built on. And I don’t know what else to say, apart from go hug your friends, check in with people, and relish those friendships.
Why I read it:
I picked this one up during my pre-YALC book buying ban. I was lured into the bookshop with the promise that the points would go on my card when I saw this.
For me this is a real ‘chick-flick’ but the take away isn’t about getting ‘the guy’, or meeting your lobster, it’s about having a friend who’ll have your back no matter what. it’s a gentle feel good book, and one I will definitely return to.
It’s not as good as ‘The Names They Gave Us’ but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, just that that one is stand out amazing.
Would I recommend? Yes. if you’re a fan of contemporary this is one I would definitely suggest.
PopSugar: Song Lyrics in the title, problem facing society today.
Clearly, I have not posted anything for a week and it’s not my normal posting day. I’ve been ill and it was my mum’s 50th so all my spare time has been non-existent, or at least I haven’t had the energy to do anything apart from collapse on my bed or on the sofa.
I will be back tomorrow as normal though and I’m aiming to get back to my normal schedule next week with maybe a few extras dotted in.
As always please leave a comment.
P.S The next book is ‘The Gilded King’ by Josie Jaffrey