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Unscripted Joss Byrd: A Novel Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
The story takes us through the final days of a movie shoot, and into the world of
Joss Byrd, a talented twelve-year-old actress who somehow manages to rise above the harsh lessons life keeps teaching her. Time and again, she's used by the adults around her for profit or as an emotional prop, but she hangs on to her sense of self and keeps going.
Joss holds herself apart from the other kids on set (including the very interesting 14-year-old guy who plays her older brother in the film) in order to keep a secret she's ashamed of. Her single mother, Viva, has manipulated Joss by subtly cultivating that shame, to keep Joss obedient and stuck working nonstop at acting in order to keep them financially afloat. (Shockingly, we learn that the parent of a child actor can keep all but 15% of that child's earnings.) The character of Viva in this book made me glad that I'm not the kind of person who would hunt someone's mother down and beat the *** out of her. (And I'm lucky Viva is fictional, so even if I were tempted, I couldn't.) Can you tell how real these characters became to me as I read this? Not a single one is over-drawn or stereotyped.
The author manages to withhold judgment on Viva's behavior and a host of other strange, Hollywood-specific behaviors, letting us make the judgments ourselves. There is plenty of dramatic material in this book, but the author doesn't dramatize it: a nuanced difference that's key to what makes the story shine so brightly. And shine it does.
Slowly, Joss comes to some empowering realizations over the course of the novel. She takes realistic action--circumscribed by her age and her inherent niceness--that lets the reader know Joss is going to make it. She's going to be more than all right; she's going to grow out of the people around her and triumph in life.
A fast-paced, immersive read with a protagonist you can love and root for! I highly recommend it for Upper Middle Grade through Young Adult. (14 and up)
Applause for Lygia Day Penaflor, who expertly shows us the underbelly of being a young actor. AND an Oscar-worthy main character, who overcomes so much.
Let me just start by saying that it took me half the book to even figure out how old Joss was. At first I thought she was 14 or 15, and then she would say something that would make me think she was 8 or 9. Finally, it was revealed that she was 12, but gosh did that take FOREVER.
As for the characters, they felt so fake. This book didn't throw me behind the scenes of a movie; it sat me awkwardly in front of cliché characters that were trying too hard to create a story that might be worth reading. I don't mean to bash the book, I just was really REALLY disappointed by it. The characters were all so ONE DIMENSIONAL and PREDICTABLE, I could barely stand it.
In books where the characters are lacking, usually the plot is the savior. NOT IN THIS CASE. The plot was kind of boing, and was not original by any means. There were no surprises, no major twists, and nothing that made it special. The whole thing was just kind of "blah."
Now, I've never been big on contemporary novels, so that could be why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I was hoping. But I really just felt like it was trying too hard, and didn't deliver. I didn't feel anything for this book. NOTHING. NONE OF THE FEELS. So disappointing.
I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone, unless they are big fans of contemporary. Maybe they will be able to find something in the pages that I didn't.
I am going to give Unscripted Joss Byrd two out of five hearts. Its not the worst book I've ever read, but it was not anywhere close to what I image it could have been.
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