Saturday, July 16, 2011

Starstruck by Cyn Balog

Gwendolyn "Dough" Reilly is having a serious crisis.  Her long distance boyfriend Philip Wishman is moving back to New Jersey.  She should be excited, but all Dough feels is dread.  Wish hasn't seen her since middle school, and she weighs a lot more now then she did then.  Not only that, but Wish has become absolutely gorgeous.  Dough knows that as soon as he sees her, he'll want nothing to do with her.  Much to Dough's surprise, Wish doesn't seem to notice the weight she's gained at all, and for the first time Dough's hanging out with the popular crowd.  But there's something different about Wish...

This is what I wish.  I wish this book hadn't had any kind of supernatural aspect.  It would have been just fine without it.  Better even.  I liked this book, and I felt like the stupid supernaturalness just got in the way.  Why couldn't it just be about a girl who's anxious about her weight because she's scared her boyfriend won't like it, and being insecure and then realizing he likes her anyway because she's way more than her weight?  WHY WASN'T THAT ENOUGH?  But noooooo.  We had to throw in boyfriend-making-himself-better-looking-by-manipulating-the-stars.  Whatever.

I loved Dough.  I loved her straight off.  She was a great narrator and I immediately connected and sympathized with her.  She has such an engaging voice.  Dough doesn't have any friends at school, partly because she's overweight and partly because everyone else at school is rich while her family owns a little bakery.  She doesn't have nice clothes and she's insecure about that and her appearance.  She and Wish have been "dating" for years, and when he's coming back to town she's frantic.  She tries to lose weight, but she has like, five days, and she works at a bakery for heaven's sake.

Wish's return is nothing like she thought.  He doesn't seem to notice that she's gained weight.  He's so happy to see her, but Dough continues to be self-conscious and assumes that he's just biding his time before he breaks up with her.  Meanwhile, Dough is drawn into the popular crowd.  The popular kids act like she's just come back to their high school too.  Like they've never seen her before, even though she's sat next to them in class and they come into her mom's bakery all the time.  Dough tries to be more like them, but it doesn't go very well.
Then the dumb supernatural part comes in.  It turns out that Wish joined a cult in California that uses the power of the stars to effect how people see them, and Wish has been using it to make himself all hot.  It has unfortunate side effects, and begins effecting the weather and there's a big storm and flooding and dramatic things happen.  Then Wish and Dough have a talk about how they care for each other despite what they look like.  Wish stops using star power, and Dough stops worrying about what she looks like.  I liked that the book didn't end with her losing 70 pounds and being all skinny and gorgeous.  She was still herself, unchanged, at the end except for being a lot more confident.

The supernatural aspect just didn't seem needed.  It was a good book with a great character voice and the fantastical aspect almost got in the way of the relationship between Wish and Dough and each of them learning that their physical appearance isn't the most important thing.  Sigh.  Oh well.  We just can't get away from supernatural romances.  At least this was a good one.

Starstruck came out July 12.

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