Publisher: Walker Children's
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.
My search for great contemporary YA books brought me to Shooting Stars, a book about a teenage paparazza named Jo. This contemp seemed like it had a different concept. There are only so many books I can read about a friend falling in love with her best friend’s boyfriend (not that there’s anything wrong with those, the last one I read, Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt was fantastic and contemporary fans should definitely pick that one up) before I need to look for something new.
Shooting Stars follows Jo, a teenage paparazza that has just been given quite the lucrative assignment: she is being hired to pose as a “patient” (for lack of a better term) at a high-end retreat-type in order to follow hot celebrity Ned Hartnett. The catch? This is way messed-up, morally speaking, especially since Ned Hartnett is the one celebrity that was nice to her during her career. Jo has to decide whether or not the money is worth pushing the limits--and her developing relationship with Ned.
For some reason, I didn’t really go into this book with high hopes. I figured that the plot would be pretty predictable, using a variation of the She’s All That I-can’t-believe-you-would-use-me-like-that conflict, substituting winning a bet for $120,000, and dorkiest girl in school Laney Boggs for a hot singer with a name possibly inspired by Josh Hartnett. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised: Allison Rushby took a fresh contemporary concept that could have been predictable and made a few twists, leading to a great, surprising contemporary read with likable characters.
Before reading, I didn’t think I was going to like Jo very much. As a person whose job is to violate the privacy of others, I assumed that she was going to be nosy, pushy, and generally annoying. Once again, I was proven wrong. Rushby’s Jo is a likable, deep character. She doesn’t dig the profession as her father does, and aspires to be an art photographer, but needs the money in order to make these dreams happen. More importantly, she always had a functioning moral compass. I preferred that she ignored it, rather than developed it late in the game.
Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby is a great contemporary read with a not-so-predictable plot and characters that run deeper than they appear. It’s a light read that I’d recommend for anyone that’s looking for something different in the contemporary YA genre.
Rating: 3.5 - good.