Monday 31 July 2017

Book Review: Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland.

Product details:
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Hardcover, 368 pages.
Release date: July 11th 2017.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+

Source: Received from publisher for review.
A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream
Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own. 

 If there’s one thing you should know about Becca Harrington, it’s that she’s not the kind of girl who lets life get her down. So, when Becca is rejected from not one, not two, but every single one of her college choices, she refuses to despair. Instead, Becca turns her attention towards Hollywood where, armed with nothing but her hopes and dreams, she’s determined to make it as a star. Or, you know, a working actress. 

Becca is a breath of fresh air, relentlessly enthusiastic and optimistic about life in such a way that only the truly young or the truly blessed can authentically be. While the title of this book fits Becca’s new life in a city where the sun always shines, it fits her personality too. This is a girl who looks on the bright side of life, always. And it’s not like Becca has it easy – at least not all of the time. On arriving in Los Angeles, Alex, Becca’s boyfriend of two years unceremoniously dumps her, explaining that he thinks they should ‘take a beat.’ Then, to make matters worse, he doesn’t even stick around to talk things out. What a douche! Jennifer Aniston might say ‘there’s a sensitivity chip missing with this guy’ – and she’d be right! Welcome to L.A, baby!

Becca arrives in L.A heartbroken and a little – OK a lot – unprepared for the demands and expenses of big city life. If this book wasn’t a feel-good YA with the title ‘Hello, Sunshine,’ I might have worried for our girl and her dreams. As it is, Becca’s grotty apartment is just about the only unsavoury element to Becca’s bright and shiny new life in L.A. where she quickly makes new friends, scores a waitressing gig to pay her rent, and lands a part in a play all in quick succession. OK, I’ll admit that I found Becca’s new life was all a little too plain-sailing at times, but this is hardly a book about the ‘casting couch’ side of Hollywood, so let’s just go with it. That said, Becca’s first paying gig is one in which she plays the part of ‘Baby Bear’ – and she has to don a musty bear costume for the part – but there’s no doubt about it, Becca is on her way!

Of course, just because Becca is living the dream in L.A, doesn’t mean everything goes her way. Like all teenagers the world over, Becca still has to answer to her mom, who is constantly on her case regarding college applications. Becca’s head might be lost somewhere high in the Hollywood Hills, but her mom is determined that she have a back-up plain in case the whole acting thing doesn’t work out. Becca, on the other hand, is sure it’ll all work out. After all, it already is working out. Becca just scored a high-paying gig in a Volkswagen advert. With so much going on and so many parties to attend, who has time for college applications anyway?

Then there’s Alex. He may be gone, but Becca hasn’t forgotten the boy who dumped her and never even called to see if she was OK.  They had two years. Two years is a long time to devote to a relationship at any stage of life. But in high school, where relationships come and go like the seasons, if not the tides, it’s a lifetime.   Becca is sure that Alex will come round. She’s determined to win him back, even after her new BFF, aspiring-actress Marisol, questions why she’d want to be with a guy who treats her like an afterthought.  Becca should think about that. She should also think a little more about Raj, the aspiring screenwriter who lives just down the hall. Could a new leading man be on the cards for this wannabe leading lady?  Does Becca have room in her life for a little bit of romance? Of course she does! This book is cute with a capital C!

In short: A sugar-coated slice of fun in the L.A sun, Hello, Sunshine, is a feel-good summer treat! 

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