Thank you to Kidlit Exchange and to Turner for the ARC of Kristina Miranda’s young adult novel SCRIPTED UNSCRIPTED. All opinions are my own.
Ellie Quinn is happy to be an animal trainer in her dad’s dwindling Hollywood business, serving stars like her diva frenemy Kate Montgomery behind the scenes. But when when Kate’s usual best friend for the studio’s new new teenage sitcom Born in Beverly Hills (could be my age, but I get campy nineties sitcom vibes), doesn’t work out… the producer calls in Ellie as backup.
But Ellie – renamed Elle, “Ellie with out the I” – for the show, doesn’t fit the mold of megastar Kate’s mousy, mediocre best friend for the studio’s. She has too much personality, which doesn’t exactly get her in good with Kate. She has to date who the producer tells her – Kate’s ex, their sleazeball castmate Logan – while watching Kate be made to date her real crush, Cam. (Discovered while picking up his niece at daycare, because… it’s LA).
Alienating the producer means Dad’s business will fail and it’s back to the lettuce farm in Salinas.
Kristina, who is still humble enough to respond to messages from her SCBWI friends, tells me that she’s never worked in TV. However, SCRIPTED UNSCRIPTED reads like a hilarious and heartbreaking tell-all expose of a behind-the-scenes of a Hollywood teen heartthrob publicity machine. This book is a rare if not unique gem in that that we see the uber-rich lifestyle while the brand names are present but constant
Caveat: A scene where much-more-famous Logan forces a kiss on Ellie (of course it ends up in the tabloids) might be triggering to some readers. That aside, SCRIPTED UNSCRIPTED is surprisingly a clean read given its setting.
(Of course, if you take Hollywood gossip magazines to be gospel, you’ll have a huge problem with this book but I’m a writer not a therapist.)
In between all the glamour, Ellie learns about staying true to herself (her Aunt Jess from the lettuce farm is the cautionary tale for if you don’t), navigating a secret romance with hot nice-guy Cam, and making peace with her mom’s death during her birth. The ending is satisfying and just-happy-enough.
In short, debut author and ex-Californian Kristina Miranda takes on a lot in SCRIPTED UNSCRIPTED and knocks it out of the park (or whatever is the appropriate show biz metaphor).
SCRIPTED UNSCRIPTED is available now.