Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.
After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.
Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.
It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.
To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…
He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.
So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.
Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.
Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?
I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about this book at first. I almost gave up on it, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Krysten Lindsay Hagar has created a very convincing young teen. The voice is so youthful, I had to remind myself and adult wrote it. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is solid, but the character comes across as relatively immature, which is normal for a girl her age. My issue was that I didn’t much care for Hadley. She was insecure and shallow. Both of those are also very legitimate trates in a fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl, which made it difficult to really care what happened to Hadley.
I was ambivalent at best over whether or not she made new friends, got to meet her idol, or hang out with the popular girls. But see that’s just the thing, girls that age grow up a lot and change as a result of that growth. Because Hadley was so difficult to like in the beginning, for me, her development was that much more rewarding.
This is basically the story of a girl trying to fit in. When her best, and really only, friend moves away, Hadley realizes no one else in her small school wants her around. Eager for a fresh start, she spends the summer by the lake with her grandparents who just happen to live next to, Simone, a girl who used to star on a teen soap that sounds a bit of Dawson’s Creek. Simone only reluctantly spends time with Hadley, preferring her popular friends, the story of Hadley’s life. Charlotte, the butt of many jokes by the cool kids, is willing to spend time with Hadley, which means Hadley’s less interested. She blows Charlotte off time and again to be with Simone instead, even though Simone stands her up repeatedly. This is when I really didn’t like Hadley. But Hadley learns a lesson about what matters and her growth is organic, logically flowing from the events in her life.
Other than disliking most of the characters, they are very believable as the often shallow, messed up young teens they are. In fact, Hadley is one of the most authentic young teen characters I’ve read in awhile. Because of that, I’m really glad I’m not a teen any more. I’d forgotten how mean they can be to one another, how much image matters, and how rude they can be without remorse.
The ending wasn’t earth shattering, but it was definitely worth sticking through the story for. Watching Hadley, Simone, and some of the other girls really grow and become more self-aware gave me hope for their generation (one my fifteen-year-old daughter is a member of).
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing. There were too many times when the story just moved way too slow for me. Hadley would go into town and get ice cream at least a dozen times and nothing much seemed to happen as a result. There seemed to be a lot of events that didn’t advance the plot.
2. Black holes. A couple of things I thought would lead to something else, never did, leaving me scratching my head as to why they were mentioned.
3. The epiphany. Hadley realizes something in a pretty big moment, but the way it unfolds came across as odd to me.
What I Enjoyed About Next Door to a Star
1. The author’s voice. Hadley comes across as so authentic, there are times I still can’t believe it was written by an adult.
2. The friendship dynamics. So much of the fighting among teen girls, not being allowed to like a boy because one of your friends liked him first, not being able to talk to someone because someone else is pissed at them, the shifting loyalties and jockeying for position, took me straight back to my own teen years. More middle school than high school, but it definitely went on until graduation in some form or another.
3. First kisses. The romance was super sweet because of the ages of the characters, but I thought the emotions the author brought to it were spot on.
4. The character development. They had a lot of room to grow, and grow they did. Their growth all seemed to be a logical progression of the events in their lives and never felt forced.
5. The entertainment angle. It’s refreshing to read a young adult novel about show business that gives us the less pleasant side of it. Simon’s experiences were realistic and not sugar-coated.
While Next Door to a Star moves slow at times, it’s filled with a colorful cast of young teens who think and act like the kids on the cusp of adulthood they are.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Next Door to a Star
Series: Star Series #1
Author: Krysten Lindsay Hagar
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon International | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | BAM!
About the Author
Krysten Lindsay Hager is a young adult author who writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, celebs, and values. She writes the Landry’s True Colors Series and the new Star Series. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction.
Her work has been featured in USA Today and on Living Dayton. Coming soon in early 2016: Landry in Like (Landry’s True Colors Book 3) out on January 12, 2016 and Competition with the Star (The Star Series).
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