Review: ‘Catch a Falling Star’ by Kim Culbertson

Review: ‘Catch a Falling Star’ by Kim CulbertsonCatch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Published by Scholastic Inc. on 2014-04-29
Format: Hardcover
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A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

Simply from the cover and from the synopsis, I was worried that this book was simply going to be another normal-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-celebrity book, of which there are a surprising number. But Catch a Falling Star definitely surpassed my expectations and was much more than just a girl meets (famous) boy story.

Let me start by saying that I would love to inhabit the small, Northern California town of Little. As soon as possible. You know, if it were a real place.  I could try to describe it, but I think the opening scenes of the novel portray Little best:

“If my life were a movie,[…] the scene would open as the shot found the curve of our river cutting through the granite mountains, its waters famous for their inky green swirl, reflecting all the pine and sky. […] Next, the shot would […] move along the pretty pastel roads of Victorian shops and houses […] past gaggles of people at outdoor cafés or leaning their bikes against storefronts or waving as they crossed the street.”

But maybe an even better way to get to know Little was by reading about its residents. From protest-organizer Nora Trent, to coffee shop regular Mr. Michaels, and even to Cleo Smythe, who has lived out all 103 years of her life in the same house, everyone is alike in their love of the town. That the author spends the extra time to make Little really come to life makes Carter’s own life all the more real and touching.

It was certainly refreshing to read a book narrated by a character like Carter. She stands out from the mob of bland main characters in so many ways: in her thoughtfulness, her natural way of caring for her family and everyone around her, her level-headedness…I could go on. Carter is very likable indeed, so it was never difficult to read on under her narration.

But on to what everyone wants to hear about…Carter’s romance with celebrity Adam Jakes! Though he is at first distant and closed-off, we soon  begin to see the charming and surprisingly normal guy underneath, at least when the paparazzi aren’t around. Their romance, though it has its roots in a fake relationship, slowly progresses at a credible pace. Adam really just needs someone he can open up to to reveal the person who isn’t just the celebrity, and Carter soon finds parts of his life that echo her own.

But what will be memorable about Catch a Falling Star isn’t necessarily the romance; it’s everything else. Long after reading I will remember Carter: how she loved working at her parents’ cafe, her struggles determining her future, and her musings about life, the nature of celebrity, and society’s expectations while stargazing with her friends. Little and her life there will not leave me soon.

A charming, satisfying, and summery read that surprised me!

What did you think of Catch a Falling Star? Have you been to Northern California or lived in a small town like Little? Have you ever met a celebrity?


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