Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Book Review: "The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes" by Xio Axelrod

So I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. to finish Xio Axelrod's The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes. Just. So. Amazing!

Toni Bennette (yes, she’s heard the jokes) was the daughter of a musician mother who left her behind to pursue fame. She grew up in a small town with a father who gave her nothing and never treated her as anything more than a burden.

Her only salvations during those days were making music and spending time with her best friend, Sebastian. Toni and Seb dream of getting away from their town and their parents, and pursuing their musical dreams. They even save money to help them make their escape. But the day Seb turns 18, he takes his share of the money and leaves without a trace.

Years later, Toni is a successful session artist and a musician-in-residence at a small club in Philadelphia. Her talent is evident and exceptional but she lacks the belief in herself and the desire to pursue fame. When she unexpectedly runs into Seb, it reopens old wounds and awakens feelings neither acknowledged as teenagers. But Toni isn’t willing to let herself get hurt again or get drawn in by him.

When an immense career opportunity comes Toni’s way, she’s unsure what to do. A band on the verge of stardom needs at least a temporary guitarist to replace their current one, who is a mercurial, talented trainwreck. It may never amount to anything, but it could change her life completely. Is she ready for the possibility of fame? And what does Seb have to do with the band?

The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes was such a great, emotional story about pursuing your dreams, finding your way, and trying to move beyond old hurts and resentments. I loved these characters and was so impressed with Axelrod’s storytelling choices, because there definitely were places where things could have veered into melodrama. (I have seen it happen too many times, y'all.)

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately where music factors into the plot and this is definitely a favorite among them. What an exceptional book!

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