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When You Wish

When You Wish

4.5 16
by Kristin Harmel

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“A feel-good story . . . we all deserve great reads like this!”—BostonNow.com

Star Beck is super-duper megastar famous. She rocks—literally—every night in concert for thousands of cheering fans. But the pop star life—tour buses, fauxmances, size 0 minis—is getting a little old. Star can’t help wondering what


“A feel-good story . . . we all deserve great reads like this!”—BostonNow.com

Star Beck is super-duper megastar famous. She rocks—literally—every night in concert for thousands of cheering fans. But the pop star life—tour buses, fauxmances, size 0 minis—is getting a little old. Star can’t help wondering what it would be like to be a regular girl—without paparazzi trailing her every move, and without people being nice just because, well, she’s Star Beck. And when she discovers that her mom has been lying to her for years about something very important, Star decides to find out what the world beyond her stage is like after all.

In the blink of an emerald green eye, Star finds herself . . . buying a car. Eating cheeseburgers. Swapping her stilettos for flip-flops. Getting a job that doesn’t require dancing, winking, or mall appearances. And falling for the cutest, realest boy she’s ever met.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review, People Magazine, March 3, 2008:
"A teen pop star goes from working red carpets to waitressing in Harmel's first novel for young adults."

Review, Parade, June 22, 2008:
"[T]his entertaining book comes down to earth when Star feels compelled to learn what it's like to be 'normal.'"

Publishers Weekly

Harmel is a reporter for Peoplemagazine-and it shows. In her first novel for teens, she displays her knowledge of pop culture by salting her writing with references to everything from Kelly Clarkson to bling. For readers who crave that sort of thing, her book won't disappoint. Its main character, a 16-year-old pop diva appropriately named Star, has it all-a great body, tons of money, fame and two Grammys to prove it. Never mind that her "relationship" with the equally famous bad-boy Jesse Bishop is staged by their publicists, or that her controlling stage mother has been lying for years about her absentee father. But when a reporter tells Star that her father's in Florida, and looking for her, she travels in disguise to find him. What follows is semientertaining yet predictable. Star experiences what it's like to feel "normal" and how it feels to be with a boy who likes her for herself, not her fame. As Star learns about life beyond the glitz and glamour, Hannah Montanafans will be nodding in recognition. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Foucart
Star Beck is the 16-year-old "It girl." A pop music princess, she works hard all the time, takes almost no breaks, and cannot eat what she wants. Her mom is constantly pressuring her to do more and do it better, but when Star finds out her mother has been hiding the fact that her father has been trying to find her for years, Star decides she has had enough. She cuts her signature long, curly red hair, hastily dyes it a strange red-blonde hue that looks more orange, buys a bus ticket, and runs away to find her dad. Being on her own is not as easy as she imagined. When Star reaches the town where her father lives, she learns that he is on vacation for the weekend, and a mishap with her newly-purchased old VW Bug leaves her short on cash. She takes a job as a waitress at a local Italian restaurant while she lives in a cheap motel across the street. She is starting to live life as a normal girl, and even though meeting her dad again did not go exactly as she had planned, she begins to think about sticking around and becoming a family again, with her father's new wife and daughter, and Nick, the nice son of the restaurant owners. What will happen when reality returns and suddenly she is back in the limelight? In this fantastic novel, readers will fall in love with Star, a girl with normal problems, a big heart, and multi-platinum albums. A great read for anyone looking to find themselves, Star's story will pull you in and not let you go until the last page has turned. Reviewer: Kathleen Foucart
A celebrity finds out what "real life" is like: this seems to be a successful plot for YA readers. In this novel, teenager Star Beck is a world-famous singer and TV celebrity, the daughter of a managing mother. She is fabulously wealthy. When she discovers her biological father has been trying to contact her, Star decides to disguise herself and go "undercover," so to speak, to locate him in Florida. She has a limited amount of cash, knowing she can't use her credit cards or checks or anything else that could be used to trace her, so for the first time in her life she lives in bug-infested motels and drives an old car she could buy with cash. She gets a job as a waitress in the town near her father and meets a family who are kind to her, not knowing her true identity. She does meet her father, and discovers a much more complicated situation than she had anticipated. She is rather quickly located and the press is upon her, but the experience has helped her discover what is important to her; it shifts her relationship with her mother; it helps her return to her professional life with a new understanding. (Also, she now has a boyfriend who fell in love with her not knowing she is rich and famous.) Harmel has created a character and a story that will have wide appeal. There is enough complexity to hold the interest of a more demanding reader, even while remaining basically an entertaining reading experience. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Claire Rosser (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10- In the spirit of Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess (S & S, 2004), Harmel's first YA novel details 16-year-old sensation Star Beck's search for her estranged father following her mother's betrayal by turning a mother-daughter bonding trip in New York City into just another publicity event. So famous that she is instantly recognizable, the teen gives herself a home haircut and dye job and, thus disguised, travels to Florida by bus and used car in hopes of meeting her father, who left the family when she was three. On her own for the first time, Star takes up residence in a cheap motel, finds a job as a waitress, and develops a relationship with the son of the restaurant's owners. Her mother/manager is a mercenary figure, while her father, whom Star believes is the only parent really interested in her as a person, turns out to be just as corrupt. The author mines familiar territory, providing readers with indulgent details of the protagonist's life as a sought-after pop singer and tempering them with the drawbacks of fame.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston

Kirkus Reviews
Star Beck, a 17-year-old pop sensation a la Britney Spears, can't stand her insane, publicity-driven life or her stage-mother from Hell. She cuts and dyes her hair, then flees to find her long-lost father in Florida. But alas, Star knows next to nothing about life in the real world and hasn't brought enough cash. Landing in a roach-infested motel, she tries to remain anonymous while coping with the new emotions of meeting both her father and a pleasant boy who actually seems to like her for who she really is. Harmel draws Star as a normal girl with an unusual life, allowing her readers to see themselves in her character. The book's surprise depends upon abrupt character shifts, but it's essentially entertainment that aspires to just a bit of depth. Better written than the usual fluff of this type, and fun for girls who wish they were stars. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

When You Wish is Kristin Harmel’s first novel for teens; she’s also the author of three novels for adults, How to Sleep with a Movie Star, The Blonde Theory, and The Art of French Kissing. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

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When You Wish 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I luv this book i found it once in the adult section and i fell in luv with it!!!
Madi Lee More than 1 year ago
I am 15 an i looove it. I read it 3times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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haley-mcp More than 1 year ago
In this book, you find a thrilling, romance, emotional, comedy, drama. This is a girl who has always lived the life. From fancy places to concerts all over the world, she had it all. One day, after finding out supposedly it was going to be just a mother-daughter day everything goes wrong. Star soon finds herself after goving herself a complete makeover. She soon is undercover and surviving off a little bit of money. She buys herself rooms to stay in and transportation. As she runs out of money, she starts a new job developing a new crush. This is just a part of her normal life, she soon finds herself at partys and on her real mission to find her dad who left when she was a little girl. A suprise awaits for her when she finally finds her dad, how she finds the true her. Overall, I couldn't put this book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Most people have the preconceived notion that celebrities have it easy. If you think that, you should go out and get a copy of this book.

Star Beck is famous. She's worshiped by millions of fans, gets an extremely high paycheck, and lives in five-star hotels. But a lot of people seem to think that her life is luxurious, and that she doesn't have a care in the world. While Star's life may have its benefits, it's certainly not easy. She's shuffled from place to place, hardly getting any time to rest. She has to practice her dance moves, watch her calorie intake, and be perfect practically 24/7. She can forget doing anything normal like going to the movies with her friends.

And she's getting sick of the pop star life. So she cuts off and dies her hair, puts on a pair of glasses, and sets off to live a normal life. She actually starts to make real friends and eat fatty foods. She's living a life she never thought would be possible. But, can she keep up her disguise forever, or will someone eventually find out who she really is?

This book was just plain fun. I was hooked as soon as I read the first sentence. Practically everyone's fantasized about living a celebrity life and all the benefits it would entail, but this book was pretty eye-opening on that issue. The celebrity life is a lot harder than it seems on TV!

There are a lot of books about celebrities and people becoming famous, but this one sticks out. Star - despite her name - is just an average, everyday, normal teenager, which makes her quite likable.

Kristin Harmel did an amazing job on her characters, as well as the plot. She never let the book get dull - I was so into the story I didn't realize how fast it was going by. I'm actually pretty sad it's over. Definitely a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i picked the book up and didn't put it down till i finished it! it was amazing, the best! how else can i say it 'spectacular, immpressive, dazzling, magnificent, splendid stunning' you get the piont. if this auther writes or has written another book i would definatly recommend it. i usually only read fantassy becaose i don't like just aboute anything else but this is a huge exeption i highly recomend this
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is like one of the best books I have read in a looooooong time. Star Beck, a singer/actress, is a fabulous character with a not so fabulous life. Her mom and entourage are total control freaks. When she is in an interview she finds out that her mother has been hiding letters from her father, who supposedly walked out on them. Along the way to find him she buys a pink BMW bug, gets a job at a diner...... and falls in love. It is a wonderful book. I could not put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Star Becks has everything in the world- hit songs, platinum albums, a successful TV show, and huge amounts of fame. What she doesn't have is a father or a sense of normalcy- both of which are things Star's mom does not want to discuss at all. When Star finds out that her mom has been keeping a huge secret from her, she goes on a quest to find out what it's like be normal, and then ends up finding what it really means to be herself in the process. Aside from my usual fascination with celebrity, which already made me love this book from the get-go, Harmel writes a very captivating novel. Star is not your typical teenage pop star there is so much more going on in her head and it makes her a more realistic, relatable character. The story itself is hilariously funny and just chock-full of wonderful, fun to read about characters (especially the cute boy that makes an appearance in Star's normal life, hehe!). I definitely recommend this book, as well as Harmel's adult chicklit novels.