So today, I'm proud to review the fantastic and stunning Love Me by Rachel Shukert.
I fell in love with her fabulous Starstruck last year, so I was thrilled when Random House gave me the chance to review the sequel!
Published February 11th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Format read: ARC via publisher
Memorable story lines and beautifully well-rounded characters make this a book that cannot be missed.
Amanda is heartbroken. She's tried, but she can't get over her breakup with hotshot writer Harry Gordon. If only she could talk to him, she could convince him that their love story is bigger than any screenplay. But Amanda isn't the only one in Hollywood keeping a secret—Harry's got one too.
Margo has to pinch herself: there's talk of her getting an Oscar nom for her first film role, and she's living with the Dane Forrest, the gorgeous movie star millions—including herself—swoon over. But if the public finds out about their domestic arrangement, her career will be over. The studio has a plan to fix it all . . . but is Margo prepared to pay the price?
Gabby's drinking is out of control, but who cares? She's bored and depressed. She needs someone who will treat her like the woman she is beneath the silly stage costumes and pigtails. And she's sure unpredictable musician Eddie Sharp is The One. But playing with bad boys like Eddie isn't for little girls. . . .
So when Random House kindly sent me an ARC, I was over the moon. And when I started reading, and realized that Shukert had kicked her (already seriously fantastic) writing skills, up an even higher notch, I was pretty darned overjoyed.
In Love Me, Shukert subtly shifts the focus of the book from teen starlet/ingenue Margo of Starstruck, to focus more on secondary characters, Gabby and Amanda. Both girls are suffering the price of continuing to climb the ladder of fame. Gabby is depending more and more on pills to get through the day, while Amanda begins to put herself in serious financial and emotional holes, to try and win back Harry's love.
While Margo's professional life is definitely glowing in comparison to both Amanda and Gabby, her personal life is equally as confusing. Her relationship with Dane, just isn't quite what it seems…
Shukert definitely doesn't hold back with her sophomore YA book. She beautifully illustrates the continuing backgrounds and challenges of the three young women that we met in Starstruck, rounding out their ongoing lives in the studio system with the type of writing and elaborate details that fully immerse readers into Shukert's fictional Hollywood.
Though the focus of the story is definitely more on the challenges being experienced by Amanda and Gabby this time around, Shukert flawlessly balances both the upsides of fame as witnessed through the eyes of Margo, with the increasing stark realities of what Amanda and Gabby have to face in their personal and professional lives.
I was especially impressed with the amount of thought and detail that Shukert put into developing Gabby's drug and alcohol abuse. Shukert introduces the addiction so subtly, that its almost painful to read as we watch Gabby continue to slide down an increasingly slippery slope as the book continues. It's not hard to see how Gabby ends up where she ends up, and how her reality must have been the reality of so many other real-life Hollywood celebrities.
And while the girls struggle with a variety of different obstacles in their respective lives, Shukert always makes sure to tie them together in a way which never fails to underline the fact that whether a success or failure, all three girls have and will continue to be united in their pursuit of the fame game.
It's only a question now of how things will play out in the third book.
This is a book that's exciting, intriguing, and definitely has more than a hint of drama, but more than that, it's also a beautifully written book about a rich cast of characters. Many of these characters are lost and trying to find themselves in an age where everything that glitters the most rules the roost, and Shukert poses thoughtful questions about wealth, fame and the cost of success as she leads these characters further down their path.
As for me, Love Me has pretty much made me a Rachel Shukert fan for life. I'm definitely looking forward to the future books in the series - ahem, Random House - and whatever else she may write in the future.
About the author:
Rachel is also a contributing editor at Tablet Magazine, and an alumnus of Ars Nova's illustrious Play Group. She received a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts, and now lives in New York City with her husband Ben and her bipolar cat, Anjelica Huston.