For anyone whose ever dreamt of packing up everything, moving to Hollywood and trying to become a star, Hello, Sunshine is for you. This young adult novel from Hyperion Press at first glance seems designed to cash in on the success of La La Land, but just a few chapters reveals that this is a different take on a similar topic. It's hard to stand out in a crowd of thousands and get noticed, but that's just what Becca is determined to do.
From author Leila Howland comes a novel about heartbreak and determination. After failing to get into Juliard, the only school she applied to, Becca hitches a ride to California with her brilliant boyfriend, who is on his way to Stanford. But when he literally dumps her on the curb, she finds herself alone, broke, and discovering that some dreams just might be too big to come true.
In the company of starving artists, Becca quickly finds herself living the bohemian lifestyle and making steadfast friends. But in such a competitive industry and one in which people are constantly reinventing themselves, consistency is hard to come by. And newly single, she is left with a lot of confused feelings about predatory neighbors, the nice writer down the hall, an insightful inspiring actress, and a costar too handsome for words.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Hello, Sunshine. I am prone to enjoying stories like this, with La La Land ranking as one of my favorite films of 2016 and Judy Garland's A Star is Born another favorite of mine. My initial assumption was that this would feel like a watered down version of both, but it stands apart as its own unique story of a girl trying desperately to make it in Hollywood. The door is left open for readers to potentially reconnect with Becca down the road and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.
Aimed at a young adult audience, I recommend this for ages 16 and up. There's quite a bit of language, particularly the "F-word," and several sexual situations and innuendos. However, these moments are often used to create a comedic situation or serve to highlight how alone the protagonist feels. There are lessons that young readers can learn from these situations.
The goal of Hello, Sunshine is not to discourage dreamers from reaching for impossible heights, but more to highlight the dedication and hard work required to get there. Throughout the 368 pages, readers will find themselves rooting for Becca and feeling like they really know her. Her big break could be just a page away, but you gotta keep reading as things aren't always what they seem.