Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Blog tour review: unscripted joss byrd by lygia day penaflor
UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Roaring Brook Press
ABOUT THE BOOK
In this affecting debut novel, a child actor struggles to find herself on a film set where only one thing matters: getting the money shot.
Joss Byrd is America's most celebrated young actress, and her next project is a hot new Indie film helmed by a renowned, charismatic director. But on the set of The Locals, Joss's life is far from glamorous. Her mother is domineering and relentless, her dyslexia makes it difficult to keep up with the constantly changing script, the boy playing her older brother doesn't seem to reciprocate Joss's crush, and the film's gritty subject matter terrifies her. Yet none of these things appear to matter to Joss's agent, director, or even her mother. Joss is just a cash cow, and no one cares what she has to do for the perfect shot-as long as she gets it somehow.
Author Lygia Day Peñaflor's draws on her firsthand experience as a private academic teacher for young Hollywood stars in this affecting debut novel that explores the many demands made on young actors.
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Unscripted Joss Byrd was a book that a publicist I met at Macmillan during ALA was VERY excited about. Once I got home and realized it was about a 12 year old girl (although this title is considered YA) I was a little leary. But no worries. Lygia Day Penaflor wrote a beautiful and engaging story that exposed the seedy underbelly of Hollywood, while also managing a nuanced portrayal of a 100% relatable 12 year old actress who struggles with dyslexia and her complex relationships.
On the surface this does seem to follow a few stereotypes – driven director, a mom that’s looking out more for her interests than Joss’s, crushes on co-stars but it’s done really well.
Despite the movie set backdrop, Unscripted Joss Byrd is surprisingly devoid of over-the-top drama but pulls no punches on Joss’s struggles to find her voice as a child actor who is basically the gravy train for a lot of adults who view her as a paycheck or as a road to an Oscar.
Watching Joss navigate the adults and co-stars and learn how to follow her own instincts to protect herself was a little heartbreaking at times but ultimately made me so happy to see that she had what it took (with a the help from a few friends) to find her own way on her own terms.
After I finished Unscripted Joss Byrd, I read that the author is a private teacher for young Hollywood stars. That expertise shows and gives this story a ton of heart rather than being *salacious just to be edgy*…while still being brutally honest about the industry and how hard it is on its young stars.
Well done! I read this one in just a few hours and still can’t stop thinking about Joss. In fact, I would love to read another story about her next movie making adventure. Don't worry about Joss's age - this is a story that will appeal to everyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lygia Day Peñaflor attended the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Seminar and received a scholarship to Southampton Writers Conference based on this manuscript. A graduate of Boston University and Columbia Teachers College, she 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 Jay-Z's reboot of Annie. She lives on Long Island.
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