Short summary: High Society girl falls for guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
Counting Stars is a modern High School romance mixed with the dark undercurrent of Southern aristocracy. Though this book was definitely not for me, I can see teens going for it. Debutante Madison spends most of her “spare” time bowing to her father’s will as a business pawn – escorting young men to various functions as “favors” to improve his professional or political interests. She even refers to her father as a pimp because the expectation of “escorting” often includes sexual favors, though it would never serve any of them to mention that outright. When she disobeys, there are physical consequences, and her compensation for cooperation is pretty much anything money can buy.
The most recent request is to have Rand (social outcast) perform with her in the annual talent competition as compensation for her father putting Rand’s sister in the hospital while driving drunk. Having witnessed Rand’s atrocious performance in the 5th grade, she is mortified. This is her one chance to impress talent scouts so that she might escape her nightmare life in college.
One of the complications include the ever-elusive Liam, who has essentially been selected for her. It is implied that her parents and society have placed them together as a formidable couple, though she must still entice his interest. A single night of authentic conversation and connection with Rand changes her, as she starts to question her life. However, the swift turnabout doesn’t feel authentic, as there is no building of the relationship. Complications arise when he won’t speak to her after that, so she half-heartedly returns to enticing Liam. When the HEA finally does occur, it doesn’t seem to fit what would actually happen in the situation.
I have to say, this was not the easiest read, mostly because the characters are so difficult to like; with the exception of Rand. He is the only authentic character in the book. Additionally, the idea that parents would use their children in such a manner makes me ill. However, since my upbringing does not include political intrigue nor lots of money, I suppose I have no context for reference.
Regardless, I can see teens gobbling this up with the angst and pop-star mania that is so prevalent (and normal) in this age group. For the same reason V.C. Andrews is popular, this will likely be a grand hit.
Librarian by day, mom/wife/reader by night (among several other quirky things). While others are busying themselves with the newest reality show, she is comfortably lounging in her Pjs, sipping coffee (or wine), and immersing herself in all things literary escapist. When not reading, she is busy singing, exploring the outdoors, mom-ing, wife-ing, and being an over all wannabe Superwoman.