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  • Writer's pictureSandy

Stars Like Us, by Frances Chapman

If you love an addictive edgy read set against a background of rock music, fame and teen relationships, then this is the book for you! I can never resist a young adult book that features bands and music, and this book had me captivated from the first page.

Sixteen-year-old Liliana, exchange student at a prestigious music academy in England, is missing her girlfriend and family back home. But when she is selected to join a ‘secret’ band, that rehearses under the cover of night time, Liliana finds herself swept up in a rollercoaster ride she never could have imagined – becoming a founding member of a band with a hit single.

Despite the heady rush of it all, Liliana is about to discover that there are cracks beneath the glittering veneer of fame, as she learns how to conduct herself in media interviews, navigates her growing romantic feelings for the attractive but elusive guitarist Carter, and tries to stay true to herself and her musical roots.

As her popularity rises, Liliana finds herself beginning to lose sight of who she really is.

Who can Liliana really trust? And how can she find a way to placate the media and her fans, while staying true to herself?

Liliana’s rise to fame is portrayed realistically – we are privy to the rush of adrenalin that comes during a performance, along with the moments of loneliness and uncertainty that creep in despite being surrounded by bandmates, fans, and media.

I love this book for its music references, the complicated romances, and the feeling of being on a fast-paced ride. I also loved the delicately portrayed blossoming friendship between Liliana and teen idol Addie Marmoset, highlighting the reality that sometimes people are not what they seem on the surface.

There is a delicious feeling of rising tension towards the end of the book – like something is about to break, and we, as readers, are along for the ride. There is an exuberant rush to the pacing of this story.

However, there are also some quiet moments of reflection and insight, which add layers of depth to the narrative.

This story is told with a fresh and compelling voice, displaying a well drawn , diverse cast of supporting characters. The writing itself is smart, taut, and edgy.

Read this one if you’ve always wanted a behind-the-scenes-peek into the alluring world of rock n’ roll – you won’t be able to put it down!

This book won the 2018 Ampersand Prize.

Published in 2020 by Hardie Grant Egmont



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