By Cyn Balog
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.99, 244 pages
Sarcastic and self-depreciating are not typical traits of a heroine, but that pretty much sums up Gwendolyn “Dough” Reilly, the narrator of Starstruck. Written by Cyn Balog, this young adult novel tackles common teen issues of fitting in, self-esteem, and young love, while also including some mystery and celestial magic.
According to Gwen, the only good thing in her life is her long-distance best friend-turned-boyfriend. She hasn’t seen Phillip Wishman (known as “Wish”) in three years, and when he suddenly moves back to town, she expects him to dump her because she’s overweight and unpopular. At first, her fears are relieved when Wish treats her as well as he always has. Even better, his new charisma and golden physique make him the most popular boy in school, and Gwen finds herself being suddenly accepted by the popular crowd because of him.
“Now there’s no time. I’d need a year to get back to my twelve-year-old self. And a fairy godmother. Instead, my long-distance boyfriend, Phillip P. Wishman III, will be on a collision course with planet Gwendolyn, all 234 pounds of her, in oh, t minus seventy-six hours.”
The story turns suspenseful when she notices things aren’t quite right with Wish. Strange behavior from him and others, as well as certain comments from a new friend, convinces Gwen that something’s wrong. When he doesn’t confide in her, their relationship becomes strained, and it takes a life-threatening event to show them the way back to each other. Sweet, quirky, and magical, this story will keep readers intrigued by this awkward, unlikely heroine and her star-crossed lover.