Starring Me by Krista McGee
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: acting, religion, reality shows, God
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Kara dreams of being an actress, and heads to Orlando for the opportunity of a lifetime, while Chad wants to be known for more than his pop star persona. The two meet and connect in this story about religion, family, and accomplishing your goals.
While I’m open-minded when it comes to the religious beliefs of others, I don’t like to be overwhelmed by them — especially when I’m reading a book. There has to be some kind of balance in the story so the reader doesn’t feel alienated and I’m sorry to say at times I felt uncomfortable reading Starring Me for this very reason.
Kara is a sweet, focused, and enthusiastic girl who hails from Long Island (loved reading a book set so close to home!) and is determined to become a famous actress. Her uber supportive family (another aspect of the novel that I liked a lot) is totally okay with her pursuing this career and even heading to Florida for a variety show opportunity. At the same time, Chad is a pop star (who got famous by winning a reality show) and is ready to take a step back from the spotlight and host that variety show. He wants to act and write and while his parents are impressively focused on making sure their son always appreciates his good fortune. They are very firm about him having a Christian co-star and get the network to agree to pre-show auditions where this particular girl can be found.
Does this sound like discrimination to you? I understand the parents want Chad to spend his time with a girl who shares his beliefs but it doesn’t mean he couldn’t spend the same amount of time with a person who may adhere to another religion but be just as hardworking, sweet, and family-oriented, right?
So Kara doesn’t know she is actually auditioning for Chad’s new show… and the two meet through mutual friends and instantly click. But Chad is worried because Kara is not a Christian and Kara doesn’t have religion in her life so she’s not sure if they would ever work either.
The two supporting characters, Jonathan (who is the President of the U.S.’s son) and Addy (Kara’s co-star on another reality show and her best friend), are both full-fledged Christians too. Kara is never judgmental about their beliefs and instead is always asking questions and sort of searching for her own beliefs as well. There’s a lot of Bible talk and most of the characters are absolutely sure Kara will soon join their team and be a follower of God.
Beneath the religious aspects, McGee has a cute story here. I loved Kara’s excitement, her blended family, Flora (the house mom with a love of literature and Jane Austen), the included skits, and the few mentions of Orlando theme parks. Just because the story deals with circumstances I can’t relate to personally doesn’t mean that someone won’t be affected by this book or connect to it. I’m just not sure if this reality show scenario is entirely believable. I guess if none of the actresses found out that the search was for a Christian girl… all would be well? I don’t know.
Mostly, McGee succeeds in the creation of an independent and motivated female character who takes her time making decisions. I have a grasp on who Kara is and I only wish the other characters had that kind of depth. Starring Me has a lighthearted premise but is heavy hitting when it comes to religion and as a reader you have to decide if that’s the kind of book you want on your bookshelf.