Sunday, December 18, 2022

Book Review - Birds of California by Katie Cotugno


Fiona St. James is a former child actor who tried fading from the spotlight after a very public  meltdown. The tabloids love to call her crazy antics and said she lost her mind. Fiona is now in her late twenties, and hopes that her embarrassing past is behind her. She finally gained some privacy while working at her family store and she isn't willing to let anyone mess that up.

Unlike Fiona, Sam Fox, her former cast mate in the popular television show, loves the perks of being a successful Hollywood actor. He loves the attention and the money fame affords him. However, when his current show gets cancelled and his opportunities start to dry up, Sam is desperate for another job. His agent offers him an opportunity to get back on his feet but, he would need to convince Fiona to join.

Fiona is wary of Sam but, against her better judgment she decides to meet with him. The two find being in each other presence tolerable at first but, then they start falling for each other. They both discover a side of each other that they never knew before. As they grow closer, they realized that they are both keeping secrets from each other.

The book started off strong but, then petered out towards the middle and end. The reason behind Fiona's breakdown was hinted at but, when it was finally revealed, the author never talked about the aftermath or what else happened. The author dedicated maybe a few sentences and then the book ended. The description and comments quoted on the book also gave away most of Fiona's secret. So, I am not sure why it took so long for us to "find out" about it and the author chose not to give us a proper resolution.

I had a hard time liking Fiona as a person. She was aggressive and moody while taking out her anger on other people. I had a hard time feeling empathy for her because she was closed off from her friends but, she kept saying that no one wanted to be near her. I don't think anyone would want to be near someone who doesn't trust them enough to open up to them and becomes aggressive instead. I felt like the story moved so slowly without anything really happening except maybe the in-depth sex scenes that seemed out of place. 

I felt like the novel left me with more questions than answers especially with Fiona's history with Jamie. Did something happened to them that lead to her nightmares? Is that why she is obsessed with true crime and Erin's articles? Why is Sam's agent trying to push that one role to Sam? Is Jamie pulling the strings for the remake? Does Fiona finally get to direct since she has a passion for it? Does Fiona go back to school since, she expressed an interest in going back to school? What happens to Sam? Does he get another job or what happens to his dying mother? The book was relatively short so, the author could have added a few more pages to tie everything together in the end. However, the book did made me think of some child stars who did have public meltdowns and who spiraled out of control. It reinforces the fact that people need to be surrounded by people who have their best interest at heart. The novel was an okay book but, it could have been better.

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