Star Dimmer

Saddleback. (Monarch Jungle). Jun. 2023. 92p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781680215960.
Gr 9 Up–Teen fashion model Jen Conrad has been staying with her grandmother, Babe, at her beach house in Malibu. During a recent stint in Tokyo, Jen’s roommate, fellow model Cammie, went missing. Jen is now a suspect in the apparent disappearance, and the tabloid media won’t leave her alone. It’s too much for her mom, television actress and former “it” girl Val Kane, who is filming a new series and staying at her condo in Los Angeles. Aloof, distant Val even asked Jen’s dad, former stuntman Jack Conrad, to take Jen to live with him and his new partner, Todd, in Connecticut, but he refused. Then Jen stumbles into an even bigger challenge: discovering that Val’s new boyfriend, sleazy former bodyguard Rob, is scheming to murder Val whose will leaves her entire estate to him. With a careening plot, very short sentences, and simple syntax and vocabulary, this is a true high-interest story written at an accessible reading level. The ending is terse and pat, with Val in mental health rehab and Jen finishing her GED before turning to more salutary interests like astronomy. All main characters are cued as white. The book is written at a first to second grade reading level.
VERDICT Teen stardom, the fashion world, tabloid headlines, a salacious crime—this will have no trouble finding an audience and is a great pick for striving readers.

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