A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife

Holiday House. May 2023. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780823453610.
Gr 9 Up–It’s 1934, and Hollywood promises wealth and fame. Henrietta and Declan arrive in Los Angeles, pursuing very different versions of success. Henrietta, an overlooked middle child from Chicago, trades sensible for glamorous, while Declan’s hidden past offers scant clues as to why he is so averse to fame and fortune. Both quickly discover that Hollywood is simply a flashy veneer covering dark and dangerous men. Dozens of girls are missing, workplace safety is a myth, and contracts are downright predatory. Hollywood runs rampant with toxic masculinity and casting couches. Henrietta’s ambitious acting dreams might implode if she can’t keep her mouth shut. But the ghosts of dead girls refuse to stay silent, haunting Henrietta until she helps them find justice. Meanwhile, Declan hides an extraordinary ability, teaming up with a P.I. to find one of the missing girls and hopefully answer a burning question from his childhood. Despite being forced into a sham romance for the cameras, the protagonists combine their unique capabilities to bring justice, accidentally falling in love along the way. Told in alternating chapters, this fast-paced mystery twists and turns, providing snippets of real 1934 history to bring the story to life. While savvy readers will see through most of the red herrings, the snappy dialogue and a humdinger of a final plot twist offer a satisfying read. Most characters are cued white. Best friend Pep Perez is Latino.
VERDICT An exciting addition to any high school mystery or historical fiction collection.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing