When an actress is fired, the 16-year-old dog trainer on set fills in.
Ellie Quinn longs to be a professional animal trainer like her father but is often stuck petsitting for celebrities like the diva Kate Montgomery, who is starring in Born in Beverly Hills, a spinoff television series based on her previous role. When Kate’s on-screen sidekick is let go, Ellie reluctantly becomes the temporary substitute actress. Unconvincingly, her performance is well received by the show’s producers, resulting in tension among her, Kate, and the show’s two love interests: Logan Canfield, Kate’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, and Cam Rodriguez, the sweet newcomer. Ellie is torn—if the show fails, her father will sell his half of Animal Stars Inc. so they can leave Hollywood and move back to Salinas to live on her ailing grandfather’s lettuce farm with her bitter aunt and overwhelming cousins. But ensuring the show’s success means taking part in uncomfortable fake-dating publicity stunts—and Ellie often fails to stand up for herself when pushed into difficult situations. The story’s strongest attributes, such as Cam’s opinions about on-screen portrayals of Latinx characters and Ellie’s attempts to make her own choices, are unfortunately unable to compensate for the rushed romance and many unsympathetic characters. Major characters are assumed white, except for Cam who is Mexican American.
An eye roll–worthy beach read. (Fiction. 12-16)