TITLE: Off Script
AUTHOR: Watson, Kate
RELEASED: January 21, 2020
FORMAT: eBook [ARC – AD – Thanks to the publisher!]
GENRE: YA Contemporary, Retelling
GOODREADS RATING: 3.79
TRIGGERS: Depression, mention of car accident, non-consensual kiss attempt, talk about rape, talk about harrassment, sexual assault, extreme diets, drug use, talk about child abuse, cancer
REPS: Bi-racial characters, half-Jewish main character
The summer after her first year of college, teen starlet Emma Crawford returns home to Manhattan to prepare for the role of a lifetime—and play career matchmaker to her friends. When Emma’s search for an assistant leads her to the wide-eyed Brittany Smith, Emma sees the big screen in the girl’s future. And because Emma knows best, she’s sure that steering Brittany onto the right path is all she needs to do to make her a star—even if Brittany doesn’t know it yet.
Emma’s plans start to unravel, however, when professional soccer player Liam Price re-enters her life. Not only is Liam her former best friend’s older brother, but he’s gorgeous, smart, and has no problem pointing out the (totally exaggerated) flaws in Emma’s plans. But as Emma comes in close contact with the darker side of Hollywood, she starts to question the glamorous world she’s always known and realizes her role in it needs to change—if she can find the courage to go off script.
Kate Watson is an author I keep an eye on because she writes contemporary takes on classic novels. I’ve reviewed some of them on my blog before, even! Knowing I gave Seeking Mansfield – a retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park – five stars and Shoot the Moon – loosely based on Great Expectations – four, I was really looking forward to reading her next “classic retelling”, Emma!
[This is actually the third book in the series, but the books can be read separately. Seeking Mansfield is the first one, Shoot the Moon is the second book!]
Since our main character, Emma, is a celebrity, the entire story is set in that world. It made for a very interesting read since I feel like we’re often confronted with the consequences of celebrities’ pressure. It also shed some light on things we might not immediately realize, like eating disorders often being the consequence of pressure agents put on their clients. Emma’s way of dealing with those things is admirable to say the least and I loved seeing how she tried combining the harsh demands while maintaining a healthy lifestyle anyway.
Apart from Emma, there are some other important characters as well. Not in the least Harlan, her brother, who has an aweful influence on pretty much everyone surrounding him. We might not get his point of view, but his growth – and often lack thereof – is visible nonetheless.
Then there are Liam and Brittany, who couldn’t be more different. Liam knows what he wants, knows himself and owns up to it as well. Brittany, on the other hand, is new in the world of celebrities and has a hard time finding her way. With the help of Emma, she tries doing that, tries staying true to herself and overcomes certain things I hope none of us ever have to deal with.
As mentioned in the triggers above, this novel contains a lot of hard subjects, difficult events and even harder truths to deal with. This made for an emotionally rough, but still enlightening read. If you need a book that proves how people’s pasts and thoughts aren’t always visible and known, this is one to pick up for sure! Not only that, but the important of raising your voice and speaking up is definitely a lesson learned as well.
Sacrifice meant giving up something that mattered for something that mattered more.
I don’t know if this is something that’s based on Emma – since this is still a sort of retelling and I never read the classic – or not, but I got really frustrated with our main character at times. She’s simply so.. close-minded and judgemental. Even more so when it comes to things that happened in her past, people who have supposedly wronged her. It really did annoy me how she couldn’t seem to understand she’s not the only one struggling with life as a celebrity. She, of all people, should understand how it is for women in that industry?! It didn’t make sense to me at all, to be honest.
Except for the one characteristic of Emma I just couldn’t wrap my head around, I did enjoy the story and all its layers. As far as retellings go, I don’t read contemporary ones often but if I do.. You can rest assured I’ll be grabbing something Kate Watson wrote!
I know I asked it before, but for the sake of my new followers:
What are some of your favorite retellings – fairytale, classics or otherwise?
Is there a story you’d love a retelling of?