January marks the first month in my new Incredible Indies feature and I couldn't be more excited! Each month I will feature a new author who is either self-published or published via an Independant press. There will be reviews, guest posts, interviews and sometimes giveaways so I hope you will check back often!
The author has generously offered to giveaway 2 copies of Starring in the Movie of my Life! 1 print copy for Canada/US and 1 electronic copy is available Internationally. Just fill out THIS FORM to enter! (Contest closes Jan 18, 2012)
~ The Blurb ~
Thirty-five-year-old Samantha acts without thinking. Her heart is huge while her sense of purpose is small; she's willing to fight for those she loves, but she's never learned to fight for herself. Eighteen-year-old Melody is cold and calculating, and she's driven by the desire to better herself. As these compelling yet deeply flawed women battle for the affections of twenty-five-year-old Nathan, he becomes increasingly confused and torn between them. Nathan is Melody's English teacher, and after he saves her from being raped, she becomes attached. Melody longs for the affection she's never felt, so she involves people in her self-invented drama, making sure she is at once the star and the director. Meanwhile, Samantha is newly married to Nathan. But Samantha has hang-ups about motherhood and lingering feelings for her ex. To make sense of the world, Sam relates her life to the themes of her favorite movies, while she independently makes a documentary to jump-start her non-existent film career. Stylistically influenced by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner, Starring in the Movie of my Life is told alternately from both Samantha's and Melody's points-of-view and relates two complete yet combined stories about love, acceptance, and redemption. It speaks to our universal desire to be saved by the ones we love, and the monumental effort required to save ourselves.
Laurel Osterkamp's first novel, Following My Toes, published by PMI Books, won the 2008 National Indie Book Award for Excellence (Chick Lit category). She drew on her experiences as a high school film studies and creative writing teacher as she wrote Starring in the Movie of my Life. Currently she lives in Minneapolis with her husband, son, and daughter, and is working on her third novel.
~ My Thoughts ~
Starring in the Movie of My Life was one of those books that I didn’t want to stop reading once I picked it up. Osterkamp is a beautiful writer and wonderfully captures the essence of the two female leads. Everything from their thought process to word choice feels authentic and accurate for their ages. I was amazed how well she was able to transition between each narrator as well as past and present events; not once did I find myself confused or lost. The pace of this novel was perfect and I quickly became engrossed in the novel and tied up in the complications of these character’s lives.
In my opinion one sign of a great novel, or a great author, is the ability to create characters that not only force me to care about them, but make me forget that this is a work of fiction. They need to feel real and authentic for me to completely lose myself and the fact that Osterkamp was able to do this so well puts her at the top of my list of favorite authors from 2011. Melody was a villain; a manipulative, immature and selfish villain who was also raised by a manipulative, immature and selfish mother who provided her with no moral compass. As the novel went on I went from hating Melody to feeling sad for her and the path that her life taken. Sam was also one of those characters who I started off disliking. She seemed so lost and aimless, two qualities that I do not usually appreciate in a main character. As the novel moved on and I got to know her and her past a little better I actually started to appreciate her more. My favorite parts of the novel involving Sam were the flashbacks into her past – it made the person she was in the present make so much more sense.
The way that Osterkamp tied the two storylines together was brilliant and I truly was not expecting to find so much depth and emotion based on the book description. This book is about so much more than a high school girl trying to get her young teacher to fall in love with her. Not only does she write about Melody’s obsession with her teacher, but readers are also given a glimpse into the past that caused Melody to behave the way she did. I loved how Melody grew as a person towards the end of the novel and was really happy with the direction that she was headed in. I wasn’t as thrilled with Sam’s ending, it felt a little obvious and I think I would have preferred to see Sam standing on her own two feet for once. It started to look as though she was moving in the direction of becoming a stronger, more confidant woman and I felt like the ending diminished that a little bit.
Starring in the Movie of my Life is a truly engaging read that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys dramas with well fleshed out characters and storylines. The narration from multiple points of view was done extremely well and really allowed the readers to get inside the heads of these two very different women. It was impossible to not become engrossed in their stories and root for a happy ending for each of them.
I received a review copy of Starring in the Movie of my Life from the author (thank you!!!) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.