I’ve always been fascinated by child stars. You’ll love Birds of California by Katie Cotugno if you feel the same.
In an interview with The Nerd Daily about her novel You Say It First, Cotungo says, “Messy relationships are my favorite relationships! In fiction, anyway. I’m very interested in the ways in which we misunderstand and miscommunicate with the people we love the most—the fear that keeps us from being completely honest with each other, the old hurt that we’ve been carrying around for years and years.”
Birds of California has a lot of mess in it too. Fiona St. James and Sam Fox were teenagers when they starred in the show Birds of California. Sam parlayed his teen stardom into a lead role on a television series; Fiona imploded on the public stage. Nevertheless, she shuns the spotlight with the same zeal that Sam seeks it.
When the network cancels Sam’s current show, he latches on to an opportunity to appear in a reboot of Birds of California. There’s just one catch – Fiona needs to sign on too. So Sam comes back into Fiona’s life with a plan, but over time, he finds himself falling for the human porcupine that is Fiona.
The beauty of this novel is in how adeptly Katie Contunga creates characters whose imperfections are front and center without rendering them unlikable. Sam is shallow, and Fiona is more sarcastic than is strictly necessary, but you find yourself rooting for them.
The love story between Fiona and Sam is jagged, as a relationship between damaged people inevitably is, but it’s also funny and honest. We don’t use a star rating here at little infinite, but Birds of California would win a galaxy’s worth if we did.
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