Rachel Lacey’s books always make me happy
At thirty-six, Eden Sands is in a slump. And yes, she’s a superstar but she’s also relatively recently divorced, her shows don’t sell out in a few minutes anymore and her last album is doing okay. Okay isn’t enough and while Eden is mostly okay too, it’s not enough for her either. When her team suggests bringing on a younger pop star for a duet at the Grammy ceremony, Eden puts her frustration aside and agrees to give the idea a chance, not expecting Anna Moss to send everything she thought she knew about herself flying all over the place.
I was looking forward to this book, and not just because I named the cat in it (thank you, Rachel, for liking my suggestion): Rachel Lacey’s books always make me happy. I’m not going to lie, her indie books are usually my favourites, the mainstream ones feel a little less lively to me, a little rushed. I can’t exactly pinpoint what makes them different but the one thing that doesn’t change is that I enjoy reading them every time.
First things first, I love the characters, and not only the MCs. The secondary characters are very much in the background but they feel right, especially the MCs entourage (and, obviously, Villanelle the cat).
Anna is up and coming whereas Eden worries she’s on her way down. She’s lonely and not exactly sad but unsettled and anxious about her career, her life, everything. Not in a dramatic way but constant, permanent. Despite hating the idea that she needs a younger star to help her get back to the top, she’s charmed by Anna’s genuine enthusiasm and talent almost from the start. I struggled for a while to find the right word for what Eden made me feel at first but then I settled on melancholy. It can’t be easy to be a pop star and feel melancholy, unless you want to specialize in ballads. Also, isn’t melancholy a very pretty word? It has the perfect sound and rhythm and, to me, it fits the Eden of the beginning of the story exquisitely.
Speaking of words and sounds and meanings, I love that Eden’s surname is Sands and Anna’s is Moss, one dry but warm, the other soft and refreshing, and I had this image in my head of Eden going from the unattainable beach below her L.A. appartement to the embracing green of Vermont, with Anna as the portal to the journey.
Stars Collide is a rather low-angst romance but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in feelings. The moment Eden understands that she might not be straight after all, that feeling of having misunderstood herself for so long, is poignant. There’s some sadness to this story but it isn’t a sad book. It’s a wrong made right, a child thrown into adulthood too quickly and sheltered from herself rather than from the world. How do you imagine yourself if you don’t know you can be? Beyond the human beings that are Eden and Anna, Stars Collide is also about the music industry, the power dynamics (parents, mentors, managers), appearances. This sentence Anna says at one point made me freeze: “They treated you like a woman when you were a child and they won’t let me grow”. The MCs’ experiences are both opposite and close enough that they understand each other.
It might feel too instalove for some but Lacey makes it make sense. Eden’s been Anna’s celebrity crush forever and having it turn real feels natural, just as natural as Eden falling hard for the one person who makes her feel something. If these two were my friends IRL, I’d probably worry a little about them going too fast, especially knowing how hard it is to make a relationship work in the spotlight, but they’re both surrounded by good people and believing they’d succeed wasn’t too hard. Bonus points to the author for once again making communication and respect sexy. 4 stars.