Starring Me by Krista McGee is a Christian YA novel. The titular "me" is Kara McKormick, a spunky New Yorker and aspiring actress who recently had her big break on a dating reality show. After making it to the final auditions for an exciting new SNL-type sketch comedy, Kara goes to Orlando to live with the other finalists and be filmed during the elimination process. Around the same time, through friends, she meets Chad Beacon - teenage heartthrob and reigning
Unbeknownst to Kara, if she wins the role on the comedy show, Chad will be her costar. Chad's parents won't allow him to work closely with a non-Christian girl, so they've set up the finalist competition in order to weed out "God's choice" for him. They install their longtime housekeeper, Flora, to serve as housemother and make the final selection. Kara quickly emerges as Flora's frontrunner, but what about the fact that she's not a Christian? Will other events in Kara's life bring her to faith and lead to a storybook ending?
Starring Me is written fairly well, with some enjoyable characters (especially Kara's family) and decent pacing. But I have to be honest: it consistently made me cringe. If you're part of the homeschooling and/or patriarchy movement, you'll like it. But as a thirtysomething woman who's bothered by fundie I Kissed Dating Goodbye philosophies, I had to walk away from it several times. In general, the whole book is about as subtle and nuanced as a ton of bricks, with an unrealistic ABC Family Original Movie quality. There are definitely worse things out there for Christian teenagers to be reading, but I think I would have raised an eyebrow at this book even as a teenager.
I did bump my rating up to three stars after discovering that Starring Me is a sequel. The first book, First Date, is about the reality show where Kara met her best friend Addy. To me, the overall context of the story makes more sense and is better fleshed out if it's not a standalone.
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