Thank you to Forever (Grand Central Publishing)/NetGalley for a copy of Stars in Your Eyes in exchange for an honest review.
Logan Gray is Hollywood’s bad boy — a talented but troubled actor who the public loves to hate. Mattie Cole is an up‑and‑coming golden boy, adored by all but plagued by insecurities.
When Logan and Mattie are cast as leads in a new romantic film, Logan claims that Matt has “zero talent,” sending the film’s publicity into a nosedive. To create positive buzz, the two are persuaded into a fake‑dating scheme — but as the two actors get to know their new characters, real feelings start to develop.
As public scrutiny intensifies and old wounds resurface, the two must fight for their relationship and their love.
Kacen Callender is most famous for Felix Ever After, which is a YA classic at this point. Stars in Your Eyes, while also a great book, is in no way for teenagers. Let’s make that clear (and I don’t mean the sexual content). Moving into the world of adult novels after becoming famous for kid-lit is not easy, and Callender succeeds with flying colors.
That said, as much as I loved Stars in Your Eyes, I also hated reading it. It’s palpably gut-wrenching. While this is a romance, it’s about two people with severe childhood trauma, one with complex post-traumatic stress (CPTSD). It’s not a light read. It is a breath of fresh air for sure, though.
Hollywood Really Sucks
One of the most fascinating things that Kacen Callender does in Stars in Your Eyes is use acting as a way of escape. The characters melt into their roles, going so far as to refer to themselves and others by their in-world character names.
Hollywood is a dangerous place for children and people of any marginalized status. However, where a lot of media, including this book, fails is separating Hollywood from Los Angeles. Perhaps because those entrenched in the system don’t see the difference. I’d be remiss not to point it out, though. The city is far more than the glitz of the entertainment industry. It’s a hub for tourism, aerospace and education, to name just a few industries.
Having lived in Los Angeles for three years and New York for three as well, in my experience, in neither city do the residents care about celebrities. Phew. I just needed to stick up for the City of Angels for a second.
That out of the way, Stars in Your Eyes pretty accurately represents all the ways Hollywood can screw its workers over. Even if studios produce more “progressive” work, behind the scenes is anything but.
Should You Read It?
If you have the stomach for pain, reading about child sex abuse and sexual assault in general, yes. This is ultimately a story of how people get by and through horrendous things that happen to them and live happy enough lives. That’s really special.
Stars in Your Eyes hits stores on October 10, 2023. Pick up a copy at your local indie bookstore or library. 📚🤩😢
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