Book Review: Stargazer

Laurie Petrou ~ Stargazer

Synopsis

Diana Martin has lived her life in the shadow of her sadistic older brother. She quietly watches the family next door, enthralled by celebrity fashion designer Marianne Taylor and her feted daughter, Aurelle.

She wishes she were a ‘Taylor girl’.

By the summer of 1995, the two girls are at university together, bonded by a mutual desire to escape their wealthy families and personal tragedies and forge new identities.

They are closer than lovers, intoxicated by their own bond, falling into the hedonistic seduction of the woods and the water at a remote university that is more summer camp than campus.

But when burgeoning artist Diana has a chance at fame, cracks start to appear in their friendship. To what lengths is Diana willing to go to secure her own stardom?

Review

Female friendships are a delicate thing. In our teenage years we fight and make up constantly, our changing hormones and lifestyles making it difficult to control our emotions. As we grow older, bonds change and friendships evolve.

In this coming of age story we meet two very different girls. Both vulnerable, both overshadowed by a family member, it is a shared grief that brings them together. Yet, despite their closeness, underneath their differences threaten to tear them apart.

This book is beautifully written, but it is a slow burn character driven story. There are lots of short chapters devoted to minor events that have little impact on the story. Through these all but irrelevant details, we do learn a little more about both girls’ characters, but it detracts a little from the underlying obsession.

At first we think we know who Diana is – jealous, overshadowed and obsessive. Fame-hungry and determined so uses people to try and make up for the lack of affection she has felt from her parents. And yet, is Aurelle any less obsessed? Despite everything, she craves Diana – needs Diana in her life. This dynamic switches as we read more and makes the story gripping.

We know what’s going to happen, but we hope it doesn’t. Even before certain events are revealed, it’s clear how and why things have occurred. It is a little disappointing that the story pans out as expected, but Stargazer is still a gem of a book. The vivid portrayal of college life in the 90s is vibrant and evocative – the accompanying playlist really does set the scene and is a nice touch.

But the real delight of this story is the way Petrou paints the characters. Their relationship is beautiful, but toxic. Loving, but obsessive. It’s delicious and dangerous at the same time and one I will be thinking about for a long time.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I received a copy of Stargazer from Verve Books. Opinions my own.

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