cover image My Co-Star, My Enemy

My Co-Star, My Enemy

Ilene Cooper. Puffin Books, $3.25 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-14-036156-8

The Hollywood Wars series gets off to a good start with this solid commercial offering. Shy, bookish but beautiful Alison, 15, accompanies a friend to an audition, but it's she who's offered a role in a new TV sitcom. It takes some doing--and a coincidence or two--to convince her overprotective parents to let her accept the part. However, she's not home free: trouble lurks in the form of Jamie, cast as Alison's TV stepsister. Also 15, Jamie's already a has-been; her long-running TV show was cancelled when she was nine and she hasn't performed since. With earnings mostly squandered by her absentee father, the girl and her family just scrape by. Seeing Alison as a threat and envying Alison's supportive and affluent family, Jamie schemes to get her fired. Cooper, author of the Kennedy School series, allows readers a behind-the-scenes view of television production, taking a quick look also at the difficulties faced by young actors--balancing work and school assignments, dealing with jealousy, etc. Some of the exposition is awkward, and the resolution comes too easily. But sparing Jamie the usual one-dimensionality of villains creates a refreshing spin, which, combined with the glamorous setting, should reinforce the book's appeal. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)