Title: Starlet's Web
Author: Carla J. Hanna
Series: The Starlet's Series #1
Published: November 2nd 2012 by Createspace
(first published August 31st 2012)
Page Count: 306
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Shelf: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Liana is dating Hollywood's hottest heartthrob while filming her seventh motion picture with sexy co-star Byron. Surrounded by a culture of casual sex and adult responsibilities, Lia feels lost and confused. With her film soon to wrap, her acting contracts up for renewal, her high school graduation looming and growing tension between her and smart student athlete, Manuel, life feels overwhelming. Will Lia find the courage to share her love for Manuel, a guy unimpressed with Hollywood? In the eternal quest for youth, what life-shattering secrets has Lia's mom been keeping from her? Can Manuel accept Lia's role?
STARLET'S WEB is not only a love story. With fast-paced narrative that reflects Hollywood's hyper-drive lifestyle, Ms. Hanna transports the reader into an actor's daily life and demonstrates how difficult it is for young adults to break free from a path created by someone else - even when it is a successful one.
January 21, 2013 Winner of the IBD Award!
“Darling, you look stunning from the back. I told you that you can pull off a plunging back.” Franz added, “You’ve got the best figure in the business.”
“But she’s seventeen,” Mom interrupted. “We’ve talked about this. Your job as her stylist is to maintain her brand as a wholesome teenaged actor.”
Franz’s face fell as I turned around so Mom could see the dress. Mom had the smooth, glowing skin of a woman in her late twenties even though she was forty. She was Michelle Michael, Oscar winning actor and Hollywood sweetheart. We called ourselves ‘actors’. The word “actress” was outdated. We all were actors, all equal, even though we females showed so much more skin.
“It looks great,” Mom concluded. “But cover her up, and she must wear a bra. Try the next, dear.”
Franz raised his eyebrows at me and the first designer who was messing with the back. We had two more gowns to try, complementary dresses from up-and-coming designers who were there for the gown selection. Mom and I were so busy that it was the only way we could arrange the dress fittings. The designer of the second dress put the second gown on me and fussed with the back zipper.
Mom responded, “No. You can’t just throw on some tulle at the bottom hem because I objected that the dress was too short. Thank you for your time. Next.”
The designer slouched. I wondered how many free man-hours it took to get to this point but agreed with Mom. He made a way too short dress with a plunging neckline and then slapped on some see-through scratchy fabric as a fix. Franz shook the designer’s hand while I stepped out of the dress.
Franz hurried to get me into the last dress. He whispered, “Darling, look more confident. Don’t show weakness, please.”
I smiled at him but his smile was gone, replaced by focused eyes and pursed lips. We entered the adjoining hotel room together.
Mom smiled, “Marie, please twirl.”
The dress felt heavy and confining. The train dragged from the weight and the bodice cut into my breasts.
“Franz, you know I love you but you struck out today. You’re the best stylist in the business but you’re getting weak, flaunting her curves. Be stronger.” Mom considered me again, “Darling, how does that one feel?”
“It’s fine, just heavy in the back. The bodice should be let out a little. It cuts into me.” I learned that it didn’t matter how the dress felt. She’d choose the one that accomplished the look she had in mind. Without much hope, I added, “The first dress is more comfy.”
Mom came over to me and pulled up on the dress. “Franz, she’s up for a Globe and an Oscar and is absolutely terrified that she will win. We need to make this as comfortable as possible.”
I played the Muse character in Jefferson’s Muse. She is a mythological muse who takes human form as an eighteen-year-old and never changes through time. She comes into the lives of men, inspires them, they love her, the men move on to greatness, and she tries again to find love and meaning for herself. I’m able to portray characters of different races because my natural features are so ambiguous. I can use makeup to darken or lighten my skin color for different characters, and my hair can be dyed or hidden under a wig.
She waved the designer to come over. “This is her Oscar gown. The bodice shows way too much cleavage. Remove the train to lighten the dress, and she needs straps. Put the weight on her shoulders.” She raised her eyebrows at Franz. “Fix the first dress for tonight.”
“Absolutely, Michelle,” Franz confirmed.
Mom smiled at me. “I’m overwhelmed, dear.” She held my hand and closed her eyes. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” She squeezed my hand, “You look amazing in both dresses, Marie, but you should also look your age.”
“Mom, now I really am scared about tonight.”
“My little introvert,” Mom smiled. “Don’t be scared about tonight. You’re not going to win the Globes. We didn’t campaign for you since your audience has been so critical of your success. Just enjoy yourself with Richard, Grant, and Matthew. You deserve the recognition.”
Muse inspires two men: the twenty-six-year-old Thomas Jefferson, played by Matthew Thorne, and a slave, played by Grant Bell. We had just won several awards: People’s Choice Favorite Movie, Favorite Movie Actor for Grant, Favorite Actress for me, Favorite Drama Movie, Favorite On Screen Team for Matthew, Grant and me, and Favorite Movie Star Under 25 for me. I won the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and Critics’ Choice Best Actress.
“I sure hope you’re right that I won’t win, Mom. I’m not in the mood. We made a mistake. I miss Evan already.”
“I’m so sorry, dear.” She whispered, “It was the only way to get you back on top. If I were a young actor today, I wouldn’t have been able to handle such quick shifts in public opinion. Social media is a cruel bully. Be careful not to read anything or go online. Okay, honey?”
I nodded. I always nodded and smiled.
I found myself wondering who each of the characters were. I felt that I didn’t really get to know anyone fully, including the main character. It was almost as if we jumped into the story on page one, which is the day that these characters began to exist. Of course, my heart broke for the main character and the many trials that she had to deal with, especially since most weren’t self induced.
Overall, this was a shockingly thought provoking novel that really makes you think about how others have it and how the best of intentions can go wrong. It is a very powerful novel that brings to light many issues that teens deal with on a daily basis, along with some more extreme issues.
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