Starry Nightby Isabel Gillies
Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for
Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren's heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?
Gillies’s (Happens Every Day) first YA novel traces the rise and fall of a young artist’s first love and how it changes her course. High school sophomore Wren is eager to spend her junior year abroad, studying art in France at Saint-Rémy, where Vincent van Gogh created The Starry Night, her favorite masterpiece. But that’s before a magical evening at a Metropolitan Museum of Art event orchestrated by her museum director father. There, decked out in her mother’s precious Oscar de la Renta gown, Wren is swept off her feet by a handsome young musician, who appears to be just as enamored with her. Over the next few weeks their feelings for each other intensify, making Wren lose sight of her dream of going to France. The enchantment of the couple’s first evening together outshines the rest of the novel, making subsequent conflicts, squabbles, and betrayals anticlimactic by comparison. Still, Wren’s rude awakening from her fairy-tale happiness will be felt deeply, alerting romantics to the danger of losing oneself amid the dazzle of infatuation. Ages 12–up. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.)
“A love story set in New York's Upper West Side, Starry Night follows Wren through her first heartbreak.” VOYA
“There is much to recommend about this touching story of first love, betrayal, and friendship.” Booklist
“Gillie's work as a momoirist certainly influences Starry Night, which is written with a perspective that only an adult's hindsight can bring. The conversational style will give readers the feeling that the protagonist is a close friend sharing her deepest secrets.” School Library Journal
“An actor and memoirist's debut novel for teens explores the exhilaration - and heartbreak - of passionate first love . . . Authentic look at teen love and betrayal that will entertain and touch readers.” Kirkus Reviews
“Still, Wren's rude awakening from her fairy-tale happiness will be felt deeply, alerting romantics to the danger of losing oneself amid the dazzle of infatuation.” Publisher's Weekly
An actor and memoirist's debut novel for teens explores the exhilaration—and heartbreak—of passionate first love. Fifteen-year-old Wren attends a life-changing party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (her father is its director), where she connects with her older brother's new friend, the charismatic, talented musician Nolan. Though they've just met, the two feel a magical connection and slip away to another dance party with Nolan's friends, ruining Wren's borrowed designer gown and upsetting Wren's parents, who promptly ground her. Smitten Wren persists in seeing Nolan, despite her parents' wishes. Gillies captures the impulsive nature of teen love and its consequences along with nicely detailed secondary characters (little sister Dinah's a cutie with her own cooking show; Wren's parents draw sympathy with their real-time reactions to Wren's relationship). Authentically depicted mother-daughter clashes allow readers to empathize with besotted Wren and outraged Nan—especially when Wren abruptly abandons long-cherished dreams of attending an art program in France to be near Nolan. Occasionally, amateurish moments disrupt (some dialogue sounds stilted; some transitions are announced at chapter beginnings). Still, readers willing to overlook such moments will find themselves engaged by Wren and her headlong dash into love; the lack of tidy happy endings underscores the grittily real feeling of the story's emotional affairs. An imperfect but authentic look at teen love and betrayal that will entertain and touch readers. (Fiction. 12-16)
Gr 7 Up—Wren has dreamed about spending the fall semester of her junior year at the exclusive Saint-Rémy art school in France ever since she first learned about the program. Wren wants to look up at the same sky and stars that influenced Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, her favorite painting. Her parents support her dream and try not to put too much pressure on her to finish the application while maintaining the grades required—Wren has a learning disability and they understand her creative process. Her father is the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she is finally invited to attend a special gala event. Even before the night begins, she can feel that this party might bring her something extra special. At dinner Wren is seated next to Nolan, the hottest guy she has ever seen up close. He's a senior in high school, but kind of famous already because of his band. That night they make a connection that might change everything she thinks she knows about herself, her friends, and love. Gillies's work as a memoirist certainly influences Starry Night, which is written with a perspective that only an adult's hindsight can bring. The conversational style will give readers the feeling that the protagonist is a close friend sharing her deepest secrets. The author's YA debut is best as an aspirational pick for younger teens; older readers will find a smarter and more intense story of first love in Lauren Myracle's The Infinite Moment of Us (Abrams, 2013).—Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City
Read an Excerpt
By Isabel Gillies
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2014 Isabel Gillies
All rights reserved.
I don't think you fall in love for the first time until something—or someone—feels dangerous. I don't mean dangerous like going to jail, I guess I mean just different, really different. Different can feel dangerous, right? Like, I think it feels dangerous when your heart pounds so hard you are sure it's visible beating under your shirt. Or when you can't sleep, or catch your breath, or concentrate or listen, or when you turn a different color just thinking about his face, or when your relationships with your friends get all screwed up, or when you fight with your parents. When you change direction or your mind, or when tears fall and fall from your eyes for hours, when your whole life gets put in a Cuisinart—all because of a single person.
For me, it started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and it ended there too. I am not sure why the person that I was in love with ended up not wanting to be in love with me anymore. A part of me thinks it was my fault. That does not sound strong, but sometimes I don't feel strong. What I hear is that we are very strong, we girls. Girls can do anything. We are leaders, we are intuitive, we are brave, we are smart, and we kick ass. "If women ran the world there would be no war." Don't you hear that? Maybe it's true; I'm certainly not going to say it's not. But if it is true, then how come it can all feel so impossibly fragile? How come you can feel like you are getting it entirely wrong?
Maybe boys don't feel strong all the time either. I don't think van Gogh felt strong, and look at everything he did—look at The Starry Night. Maybe you can feel fragile and still paint The Starry Night. Or maybe you can paint it because you are fragile. Maybe you can be strong and still be vulnerable, like a tree. Have you ever seen a tree filled with birds? There seems to be one on every branch, and then all of a sudden something happens, possibly from the atmosphere or the surroundings—or maybe not, maybe it's something having to do with the tree itself, the branches, the leaves, or even the roots—that causes the birds to fly away in unison. And the tree is just left there—maybe strong, but left.
The air felt loaded in New York City. It was one of those days that you feel not only that the temperature will drop but that something tremendous is going to happen. It was a Monday in November and the sky was so blue it was violet, uninterrupted by clouds. The sidewalks reflected the shining sun, making us squint. Mostly, I remember this crazy wind. It was so forceful you knew the meteorologists were talking about it on the news. It was pushing us around. Our hair whooshed over our heads, twisting and tangling. Sometimes a gust would come and push us a few steps faster than we would have usually walked. This made us squeal. We were suited up in fall sweaters and jean jackets over our dark blue, pleated school uniforms and black leggings, scarves wrapped multiple times around our necks. Fall clothes are the best ones—I feel so much safer in a cardigan and boots than in some flimsy dress and sandals. But even in our chunky sweaters, we weren't dressed for the sudden change in weather; we weren't at all ready for it. The three inches of leg between where the stretchy legging fabric ended and my ankle booties began were red with cold, and that was just the beginning. We were not protected. We should have been wearing parkas, heavy ones.
Farah, Padmavati, and Reagan were coming over to my house after school because that night my father, who is the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was hosting the opening of a new exhibit he was curating, and —for the first time—my friends and I were invited to the party. Charlie, our only friend-who-is-a-boy, was meeting us at my house. He was probably already there because his school, St. Tim's, is on the west side of Manhattan, where we all live. My brother, Oliver, goes there too, but he's a senior, and we are sophomores. St. Tim's is just for boys, and Hatcher, where Farah, Padmavati, Reagan, and I go to school, is just for girls. It's on the east side of Central Park. But it's not really where we met. We've known each other since we were born. Since before we were born really. We're Turtles. Fifteen years ago on the Upper West Side, five babies were born all in the same month (basically) to parents in the same reading group, all because of Lady Chatterley's Lover. It sounds like a reading group orgy—but really, it was because of the discussion of one hot scene and what happened when everyone got home.
Our parents called us the Turtles because turtles lay so many eggs at one time.CHAPTER 2
Several weeks before the very windy day, it was an early autumn evening, the first one where you knew summer was truly gone. I was procrastinating in the living room with my parents.
"Can they all come?" I said to my mother and father.
"When are they not all invited to everything?" Mom said, pointedly sliding her new orange-and-purple reading glasses farther up her nose as she dog-eared a page in the Architectural Digest she was reading. Dad stood up and poked the fire.
"They can come to everything here, but they have never been to a Met thing. Can we sit at the same table? Me, Vati, Farah, Reagan, and Charlie?"
"Darling, we have no idea how we'll do the tables now," Dad said, in his slight Dutch accent that just sounds European unless you know what you are listening to. A log rolled awkwardly off the pile and he bent down to prop it back up. Although he is one hundred percent city, he does things like kick around burning logs on the fire like someone who lives in the country. And Dad wears Barbour oilskin jackets on the weekends like Prince Charles.
"But we can all stay till the end, right?"
"Yes, Wren! Goodness, the exhibition isn't for months. Relax, this is worse than you are about Halloween." Mom put her glasses up on her head and looked at me with wide, this-is-getting-annoying eyes.
"I don't dress up anymore," I said, and pulled a random thread on the upholstered armchair I was sitting in.
"Don't pull that, Wrenny!" My mother kicked her leg over in my direction to get me to stop.
"Sorry." I really do pull on things too much.
"The whole chair will unravel!" She winked at me, put her glasses back down on her nose, and resumed her reading.
"It will be fun, my love. You all can dress up and hobnob with the nobs." Dad was finished futzing with the logs in the small arched marble fireplace, but before he sat back down on the love seat to read his book, he came over and kissed my head. "Are you all done with your homework?"
"No." I scrunched my nose up, knowing that he knew I wasn't and that's why he asked.
"Well, get to it and leave us to think about parties. Your B average that is required to apply to Saint-Rémy isn't going to materialize by itself, and I believe you have some work to do in that area." He raised his eyebrows.
I had just started my sophomore year at Hatcher, but I was already working on my application for this unbelievable, impossible-to-get-into junior-year-abroad program in France that I had been wanting to go to since the end of eighth grade, when my art teacher, Mrs. Rousseau, looked at a collage of a jungle I'd made and told me about the program. She said anyone who could draw a leopard like that (it was quite fierce and a little crazy-looking) should go to SaintRémy. It's an art school in an old nunnery next to the asylum where Vincent van Gogh convalesced for a year and painted one hundred and fifty works of art, most of them masterpieces. He painted The Starry Night there.
"Oh my god, I'm never going to get in!" I slid down the chair onto the wool sisal rug next to our old corgi, May, and curled up with her in front of the fire.
"Wren, please—you won't get in if you lie around on the floor with May. Get upstairs and Go. To. Work. That self-portrait isn't going to draw itself either, you know," my mother said.
Lying on the floor in the glow and heat, I wished I could just be May. How was I going to do that self-portrait? You had to produce a great one to be considered for this program—it had to be genius. Self-portraits are so intense. Have you ever seen Frida Kahlo's? The one with the monkey and the hummingbird around her neck? Oh my lord, she is giving such a look you can't believe it. She actually said, "I was born a bitch." And you can see that very clearly in the painting. There is no hiding in a self-portrait; everything comes out.
I put my head on May's side and her insides made a low guttural gurgle. I closed my eyes and pictured The Starry Night. It's my favorite painting of all time. Sometimes when I feel that I won't be able to do something, or I want something really badly, I put this painting right in front of my mind's eye and wish on one of its eleven stars. There might be more than eleven if you are counting the flashes of yellow that swirl around in the midnight sky, but I don't count those. There is one bigger ball I guess you could call a star, but I think of it as the moon. No, I count eleven true stars. That night I picked the bright one next to the cypress tree to wish on. Please, star, give me what I need to draw a real self-portrait and get into the France program next year. Please ... please ... please ... I drifted blissfully around in the thick blue swirls of van Gogh's paintbrush marks. The fire was soaking into my face and hands and May's thumping heart beat steadily beneath my ear.
"Wren? What's going on down there?" Mom called from her chair.
"Mama?" I was shocked to hear her voice. I had been in the cosmos.
"Yes, love." She looked down at May and me. Her glasses were back on the top of her head.
"Mom," I said. She sighed like she only half wanted to hear what I would say next.
I didn't move. I just looked up into her impatient but listening face.
"Mom, what if I look inside to draw myself, and I don't like what I see?"
She took a deep breath in and let it out slowly.
"I think you will find that your insides are very beautiful, Wren. But you have to look. You have to try." She leaned back so I couldn't see her anymore. "You have to get off the floor."
May shifted like my head had gotten too heavy for her to be comfortable. I thought I should probably text everyone to see if they were doing their homework.
"And why don't you leave your phone with us, yes?" My father looked up at me over his reading glasses and stuck out his hand. I swear Dad is some kind of mind-reading wizard. They both are.CHAPTER 3
I am going to introduce my friends by going back in time. Then we'll get back to the present. The future will be in some other book.
Farah, Vati, Reagan, and I all started at Hatcher together in kindergarten. In seventh-grade, there is a school fair that everyone in the class organizes, hosts, and cleans up after. You vote on a charity to donate the money to: the Michael J. Fox Foundation, breast cancer, the Natural Resources Defense Council—something like that. You decide what games to have: face painting, apple dunking, guess the teacher's weight. You sell tickets, you make posters, and then one Friday afternoon it all happens in the Hatcher gym on the tenth floor.
Farah, Vati, Reagan, and I got Charlie and about six of his friends to come to our seventh-grade fair. We were the only girls in the grade who brought boys that weren't their little brothers. It was pretty awesome because having boys there made the fair feel cool and happening. Instead of helping with the cleanup, we bailed and went to Nino's Pizza on Lexington and Eighty-Sixth Street and played video games with Charlie and his friends. We didn't think a thing of it again all weekend; maybe we thought there was a cleanup committee that somehow none of us were on? Anyway, Monday morning when we got to school we got in a mother lode of trouble.
"You don't give a SHIT about people with diabetes!" Tyler Morgenstern yelled from the top of her desk where she was standing at the grade-wide emergency homeroom meeting that was called to discuss what we had done. Mrs. Garrison, our homeroom teacher, blanched when Tyler said "shit," but as the meeting was supposed to be an opportunity for everyone to talk about how they were feeling, she didn't say anything. "All you guys care about is St. Tim's boys!" continued Tyler.
"Are you KIDDING ME ?" Farah stood up. "I will have you know, my aunt has diabetes. She has to walk around all day long with a machine attached to her with an alarm in case her insulin drops! It was my damn idea to give the money to the American Diabetes Association."
"Damn" made both Mrs. Garrison and Mr. Tropple half stand up.
"Girls, calm down, we are trying to work this through now," Mr. Tropple, our bald Marxist history teacher / other homeroom teacher urged.
"Oh YEAH —then why did you guys leave it all up to us to clean up? You just left with your little boyfriends without looking back," said Katie Boyer, who stood up on her chair to make that point. She wasn't the most agile of girls, so she just put one leg up on her desk. "If you gave a shit ..."
"Oh, hey there!" pleaded Mr. T. "Let's watch our language, girls."
"Sorry, but honestly, Mr. T, they think they are so cool just because they know guys from St. Tim's," Katie said, in a much calmer voice.
"I don't think we think we're cool—I think we, well, I know we are sorry." I offered this but it was thirty-something against four, and the thirty looked like they wanted to destroy us. It felt medieval, like they were villagers and we were the outcast dragon that had eaten and spat out all of their sheep.
"Wren, give me a break, they are all just jealous that we brought boys to the fair and had fun and all they could offer up were their little brothers!" Farah said, not under her breath at all.
Tyler started to cry, which made me feel really bad. Vati started to cry too. With seventh graders, crying is contagious; in minutes you could have at least thirty hysterical tween girls on your hands.
"Okay, okay. Let's calm down," Mrs. Garrison said in her buttery monotone. "How are we going to make this right?"
Reagan's hand shot up.
"Reagan," said Mrs. Garrison.
"Okay." She got up on her desk. I guess the desks were like our podiums, but every time one of us got up there the teachers sort of put their hands in the air like they were there to save us if we fell. "It sounds like they feel taken advantage of. That is what I am hearing." All the townspeople nodded.
"If we say we're sorry, and maybe write a paper during recess about how we would feel if we got taken advantage of, maybe we can move on and let this water move under the bridge."
Reagan is so sophisticated. Her mom has spoken to her like she was a thirty- year-old since she was three. My parents practically still sing me lullabies.
I raised my hand.
"Wren?" Mrs. Garrison said.
"Um, if we are going to do that—and I totally think we should because we feel bad and everything—can I use my computer? I fully intend to write more than two pages, and I really can't write that much longhand." I get special computer privileges because I'm dyslexic and have dysgraphia. Although I can draw an owl so it feels like it's sitting right next to you, I have the handwriting of a four-year-old.
"That's fine, Wren," Mr. T said.
"I have one more thing to say." Farah didn't need to stand on her desk; when she spoke everyone in the class listened.
"I will write this paper, but I'm telling you something ... if someone took advantage of me, I wouldn't whine about it in a shitty meeting like this. I would use my six years of tae kwon do and kick their ass."CHAPTER 4
Hanging out with Charlie, age twelve:
"This, you noodles, is called DUMBO!" Winston Fudge, Charlie's dad, called out from the front of the Nosh van. Reagan, Farah, Vati, Charlie, and I all went to the same preschool. But once we got into elementary school, we didn't see Charlie except on the weekends for playdates or soccer, or sometimes when Charlie invited me to ride in the Nosh van with him and his dad delivering catered meals to people. Nosh is now a huge catering company, but when Charlie's parents started it, they cooked out of their kitchen on the Upper West Side and had an online menu; then people would order dishes to have in their fridges to nosh on, get it? Nosh?
Excerpted from Starry Night by Isabel Gillies. Copyright © 2014 Isabel Gillies. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Isabel Gillies, known for her television role as Detective Stabler's wife on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has published two memoirs, Happens Every Day (a New York Times bestseller) and A Year and Six Seconds (both Scribner). She graduated from New York University with a BFA in film. Isabel lives in Manhattan with her family.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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tale of teen love is both realistic and fantastical
Everday, practically. <p> Monday- (possibly) 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. then 11:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. <br> Tuesday- (possibly) 8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. then 11:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. <br> Wednesday- (possibly) 9:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. <br> Thursday- (possibly) 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. then 10:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. <br> Friday- (possibly) 8:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. <p> Saturday- (possibly) 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. then 10:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. <br> Sunday- (possibly) 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. then 5:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
Mon.,Wed,Fri,Sat,Sun 3:45-5:30 and maybe 6:30-9:30 Eastern Time
This novel was amazing. I higy recomend it to all readers who like romance fiction.
See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com Special thanks to NetGalley and Farrar Straus and Giroux for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Reviews for this book are all over the place, so I was a bit reluctant to read it. However, I know I need more YA in my repertoire and I love the cover, so I went with it. I felt like I was time-traveling into my past and looking through the eyes of my teenage self as I read this book. Wren is a young artist with ADD. She has a dynamic group of friends she's grown up with, her family is basically famous, and her brother makes friends with a dude she thinks is pretty fine. Mix in a fancy shmancy museum party, some late night mingling with attractive and successful people, and a few bad decisions among the posse and you've got Starry Night. All of the characters are in High School and pretty much all driven by hormones and blind dreams. I think that's what made this book feel real to me. It was exploding with the quirks and follies of teenagedom and I enjoyed every moment of it. I was totally that kid. It made me laugh at stupid things I thought and did back then. It blew little issues out of proportion, because back then everything did seem like a big deal, because you just haven't experienced the real world yet and nothing is really in perspective. When you're a teenager, your main concern is the person you like and whether people like you or not. Junior and Senior year you *might* start thinking about college and the rest of your life, but that's still only your #2 concern. This book totally brought me back to that time, and not only was I able to enjoy Wren's story and even all the heartbreak (because let's face it, most of us got our hearts broken by someone we thought was 'the one' in high school), but it also made me appreciate the fact that I went through all those things, because that's how I got to today. I don't care what they say, I liked this book. Starry Night is a light YA Chick Lit and is a perfect "beach book" or "just for fun" book. For those who enjoy books like The Selection Series by Kiera Cass or the Blood and Snow Series by RaShelle Workman will enjoy this book. There isn't really any fast-pace adventure or anything, but it is definitely a journey.
He sees madi d smiles walking to her
Looks at a cute guy
Saturday :: 9:00 to 11:00 PM <br> Tuesday and/or Wednesday :: 6 to 8 PM
Moonkit: friday from 5:00pmm to 6:00pm pacific. <br> Twistedtwig: monday from 10:00pm to 11:00pm pacific, as welll as wensdays from 6:30am to 7:30am pacific.
A tabby she-cat stands up. I know I'm not dead... Am I dreaming? A strange urge gripps her. She says, I am the Cat from the cold North! I am Tabbyfire! StarClan, I will help the lost Clan!