Published by Roaring Brook Press on August 23, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic fiction, contemporary
Source: eARC from Publisher
In this affecting debut novel, a child actor struggles to find herself on a film set where only one thing matters: getting the money shot.
Joss Byrd is America's most celebrated young actress, and her next project is a hot new Indie film helmed by a renowned, charismatic director. But on the set of The Locals, Joss's life is far from glamorous. Her mother is domineering and relentless, her dyslexia makes it difficult to keep up with the constantly changing script, the boy playing her older brother doesn't seem to reciprocate Joss's crush, and the film's gritty subject matter terrifies her. Yet none of these things appear to matter to Joss's agent, director, or even her mother. Joss is just a cash cow, and no one cares what she has to do for the perfect shot-as long as she gets it somehow.
Author Lygia Day Peñaflor's draws on her firsthand experience as a private academic teacher for young Hollywood stars in this affecting debut novel that explores the many demands made on young actors.
Unscripted Joss Byrd is author Lygia Day Peñaflor’s debut novel. I found Unscripted Joss Byrd to be a very interesting read. One that I don’t see too much of in young adult literature. I think the fact that the novel draws on Lygia’s firsthand experience as a teacher for young Hollywood stars adds a level of credibility that made me feel like what I was reading was part expose and part fiction.
I consider Unscripted Joss Byrd to be young adult fiction because of the maturity and nature of some of the situations and themes, however the main character is a little on the young side. I think I would have preferred Joss to have been a couple of years older. In the end, it worked out alright because I think Hollywood ages you so much that you end up being older than your years, but that was my main hold back with the story.
What I loved the most about Unscripted Joss Byrd was that I felt like we were given a special sneak peak into the private lives of a famous actress. It was like being a fly on the wall in the life of Joss. The story had a very realistic feel to it. Lygia Day Peñaflor holds no punches with Unscripted Joss Byrd. When there is a dark underbelly in Hollywood, Lygia Day Peñaflor exposes it for what it is. But at the, I don’t feel like she over exaggerated anything or created any drama for drama’s sake. I feel like she stuck to what the true ugly facts of the industry are. And I appreciated that. At least, I felt like she did. (But what do I know.)
Bottom line: If you like your contemporary reads with some grit and real-worldness, Unscripted Joss Byrd is the book for you. I really enjoyed this one, and Joss Byrd is a great young adult voice.