Hollywood critics agree. Joss Byrd is "fiercely emotional," a young actress with "complete conviction," and a "powerhouse."
Joss Byrd is America's most celebrated young actress, but on the set of her latest project, a gritty indie film called The Locals, Joss's life is far from glamorous. While struggling with her mother's expectations, a crush on her movie brother, and a secret that could end her career, Joss must pull off a performance worthy of a star. When her renowned, charismatic director demands more than she is ready to deliver, Joss must go off-script to stay true to herself.
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Lygia Day Peñaflor is a private academic teacher for young Hollywood stars. Her students have included the young casts of Gossip Girl and Boardwalk Empire, as well as I Am Legend. Unscripted Joss Byrd is her debut novel. She lives on Long Island in New York.From School Library Journal:
Gr 6–8—A novel that addresses a mix of light and serious issues, with a well-drawn setting and realistic characters. Sixth grader and child star Joss Byrd is on the set for an upcoming movie being filmed in Montauk, Long Island. The film is based on the lives of the director Terrance, his sister Norah, and their abusive stepdad. The presence of Joss's mother, Vivi, on location sets up conflicts involving family issues, responses to abuse, and professional responsibilities. Vivi often comes up with ill-fated business ideas and relies on Joss's income instead of finding a steady job. Vivi pressures her petite daughter to take roles now, worrying that puberty will end her career. The tween wants to avoid sexual assault scenes with Tom Garrett, who plays Norah's abusive stepfather, and always stays in character. Script changes are presented daily, and Joss struggles with her dyslexia as she relearns her lines. Despite Terrance's promises, the protagonist must film a scene in which her character tells her brother that she was sexually abused by their stepfather, but the real Norah doesn't want the scene in the movie. Additionally, Joss can't connect with local kids, who assume that she is stuck-up and entitled. This is a quick and compelling read with fully fleshed-out characters. It focuses on the issues of responsible parenting, the struggles of not feeling like an average kid, the sexualization of young women, and the exploitation of a tragic past. The book ends realistically, with some unresolved threads. VERDICT A general purchase for libraries looking to round out their fiction for tweens.—Liz Anderson, DC Public Library
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