Hadley Daniels doesn’t wanna spend another summer alone, so when she gets the opportunity to stay with her grandparent in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven and next to a teenage TV star Simone Hendrickson, she grabs it!

by Peter

Title:

‘Next door to a star’

Author:

Krysten Lindsay Hager

Pages:

231

Reading Level:

Advanced Beginner

Published:

2015

Publisher, this copy:

Limitless Publishing

Feelings Thermometer:







But it’s hard being Hadley, when you’re not born popular and not used to hang out with the princesses at school talking about boyfriends and make-up and acting cool in expensive clothes.

Hadley tries all she can. She’s there whenever Simone and her TV star friends wants it, failing her new friend Charlotte, who has just lost her mum. Finally, Hadley succeeds, when she meets Nick Jenkins.

Great expectations

I had great expectations for ‘Next door to a star’, when I first began reading. Krysten Lindsay Hager describe all the difficult teen feelings among girls, the dialogues flow neatly, and at first it was also really easy to relate to Hadley, because who haven’t been the not so popular teenager, stuck with a weird family, wishing for things to change over a summer.

The story stagnates

The pace is low, and it didn’t bother me in the beginning, but when it stays low and nothing in particular is happening, beside from Hadley getting her ears pierced and trying to wear makeup for the first time, and the girls ask each other to come over — day by day — day by day — the story stagnates.

Excerpt from ‘Next door to a star’

“You guys know each other?” Simone asked, looking Charlotte over. I didn’t want to say “yes,” and be on the loser list all summer, so I shrugged. I had my back to Charlotte and I rolled my eyes.
Simone nodded. I glanced around, but Charlotte was gone. I felt horrible
“Looking for sticky girl?” Simone raised her eyebrows.
“Um, I don’t want to get in trouble for losing her,” I said.
“Hey, we’re going to grill hamburgers tonight at my house. Do you wanna come over later?”
“Sure, what time?” I asked.

There has to be more drama

It was pretty cosy to hear about the girls life each summer day, and it reminded me of my own summers when I was a child, stuck with my family. But … when it’s actually a novel, in my opinion, there has to be a plot!

It’s just not good enough coming up with independent stuff the girls do each summer day. There has to be just a little drama. Something to look forward to.

Couldn’t feel anything for Hadley

What makes these kind of novels good, is when you melt together with the protagonist. But in the long run, I couldn’t feel anything for Hadley. She seemed like such a weak character to me. She didn’t do anything altruistically or brave. Even though she knows it’s the right thing to befriend Charlotte, she’s only truly interested in Simone and her TV star friends. And when she get her kicks, she gets them from new clothes, trying new makeup and drooling over boys.

Suddenly Hadley seems so inexperienced, that the thought struck me: Maybe I had misunderstood something. Maybe ‘Next door to a star’ really was a novel for Tweens and not for Young Adults!?

More a simple romance than contemporary

When I finished reading, I was just so disappointed. All the way I had high hopes for Hadley changing her mind, finding herself instead of chasing Simone and letting Charlotte down. Or just some kind of plot twist or at least just some kind of plot. But that just wasn’t in the cards.

I can’t really call ‘Next door to a star’ a contemporary, because compared to super contemporary novels about not being popular, like ‘Elanor & Park’, where you learn so much. So maybe it’s just a simple romance. You don’t really learn anything in ‘Next door to a star’ but the facts that lots of girls gossip and lots of girls live a superficial life trying to be popular, instead of being brave and finding their own qualities. It actually made me sad, that Hadley didn’t aim higher.

The story felt like middle gradefor girls who just want a boyfriend for the very first time and can get excited just by getting their ears pierced or touching a boy. The story’s been setup in a believable way, but without a plot, a strong protagonist, important messages or deeper values, it felt empty.

I am truly sorry about that, because I had hoped for so much more.

Thank you so much for the ARC, I received in exchange for an honest review.