Today, I'm reviewing the incredibly fun and romantic Not in the Script.
This is Amy Finnegan's debut novel with Bloomsbury's If Only line, and guys - I really think we're going to be seeing big things from her in the future.
YA Contemporary Thursday is where we review the latest and greatest in contemporary titles!
Paperback, 392 pages
Expected publication: October 7th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format read: ARC via publisher
(Yeah, yeah. Don’t even try and pretend you haven’t wondered the same.)
Would they be as down-to-earth as they seem when they’re in the public eye? Are they in fact just like us, people with normal problems, especially when it comes to relationships?
Well, if you’ve ever wondered these questions like I have, you’ll definitely want to read Not in the Script. Amy Finnegan gives us a behind-the-scenes look at celebrity romances and the inner workings of the industry in this awesome debut YA romance.
Things that worked:
Finnegan has the type of voice that will engage you from the very first page. Her voice is sharp, her descriptions are thorough, and readers going to feel like they have a unique behind-the-scenes look into a very privileged world.
I was especially impressed with Finnegan’s ability to dissect the anatomy of a how a TV show is created - from announcing the casting of the show, to putting that show together - while also keeping the plot moving for readers.
This is the type of book where a reader will pick it up and have avery hard time putting it down, because Finnegan’s words will want to keep them reading.
Finnegan introduces readers Emma and Jake, alternating between their two POVs. Emma is a famous child star who’s now pursuing more adult roles, while Jake is a model-turned-actor, who is dipping his toe into the acting pool for the first time.
She does a great job of adding layers between Emma and Jake’s distinct personalities, including Emma’s desire to be taken seriously as an actress and still focus on her academics, and Jake’s slight disbelief that he’s now in a position to genuinely provide for her family.
While many similar books in the genre would likely play up the celebrity factor and/or the small-town-boy/girl makes good aspect, Finnegan also manages to humanize both Emma and Jake.
There is a definite sense that these are two normal, but very talented young-people who have managed to make good due to talent and luck, and you can’t help but admire them and want to be friends with them as you read.
A behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry
I think that most readers will go into this book assuming that Hollywood can be a fickle place, where friendships and relationships aren’t always valued or taken seriously.
Not in the Script does an insightful job of showing just howmuch it may suck sometimes to be in a privileged position like Emma’s, and how people, including family and so-called friends, may take advantage of that fact.
But at the same time, there will always be loyal friends who dohelp keep a person down-to-earth like Jake’s friends, and will totally give you flack, regardless of how many shirtless billboards exist of you out there.
Finnegan has incorporated some subtle lessons on loyalty, friendship and asserting yourself in selfish relationships that I think will give readers, especially educators and parents, a lot to talk about with the younger readers in their lives.
Jake and Emma are swoon worthy, no doubt. Finnegan manages to hit that right note of will they/won’t they, and does it in a way where you will LITERALLY be counting down the pages until they figure out whether they’re going to get together.
But more importantly, Finnegan does a really nice job of subtly emphasizing how a solid relationship should be formed on mutual interests and genuine respect for one another – unlike some of Emma’s earlier relationships.
Emma and Jake take the time to get to know each other’s passions and hopes throughout the book – e.g. Jake’s desire to study business and Emma’s interest in finding a cause for her foundation that will genuinely help others, and it’s through thatthat they really start to fall for each other.
That type of respect in YA romance doesn’t always happen, so it’s seriously HOT when it does happen.
At the risk of sounding like a boring, old lecturing adult – I really think that a lot of younger readers will see through Jake and Emma that relationships, even celebrity relationships, shouldn’t be formed on who looks good together and who doesn’t, but more on genuine respect.
The parental factor
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of having a parental presence in YA.
Finnegan does a fantastic job of incorporating both Emma and Jake’s families into the book, showcasing their love, respect and occasional conflicts with one another.
I especially liked seeing how Emma handled her disagreements with her mother on how to manage her career. Rather than create a stereotypical mother/daughter showdown, Finnegan shows that it is possible for Emma to maturely talk about her doubts with her mother, and find a different role for her mother to play in her life.
There’s a definite wisdom in how both mother and daughter handle each other’s new roles in their joint lives, and I think that a lot of readers, both young and old, will respect and appreciate this fact.
Without giving spoilers away, Finnegan ties everything up nicely in a way which will satisfy readers and still leave them wondering what’s next on the horizon.
(Hopefully a sequel… AMIRITE, Bloomsbury? :D )
Things that didn't work:
In fact, I loved this book so much that I’m actually smiling to myself as I write this, because I know that other people are going to fall in love with Emma and Jake as I have.
Emma and Jake have the type of charisma, perfect chemistry and unresolved tension that will make readers count down the pages until they can actually figure out where they stand.
But more importantly, they also have the type of friendship and potential burgeoning relationship that begins with shared interests and mutual respect for one other. I can’t even begin to underscore how awesome it is to read something like this, in a world where insta-love and relationships based strictly on attraction on the norm.
I highly recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary fiction in general, but also for fans of Kasie West and Rebecca Serle. Read this book, and delight in the cute. You’ll totally thank me later.
About the author:
Amy Finnegan writes her own stories because she enjoys falling in love over and over again, and thinks everyone deserves a happy ending. She likes to travel the world—usually to locations where her favorite books take place—and owes her unquenchable thirst for reading to Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling. Her debut novel, NOT IN THE SCRIPT (Bloomsbury, Oct 2014), came about after hearing several years of behind-the-scenes stories from her industry veteran brother. She’s also been lucky enough to visit dozens of film sets and sit in on major productions such as Parks and Recreation, and Parenthood.