I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 11, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, contemporary
Format: Print ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream
Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.
Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?
Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.
Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.
How much of Hello Sunshine was based on your life? What parts of Becca’s life resonate with you?
A lot of Hello, Sunshine is based on my own life!
The biggest difference was that I was accepted to and graduated from Georgetown University. That felt like a big accomplishment and gave me a status that Becca doesn’t have. However, I don’t believe I was any less naive than Becca when I set out to be an actress in New York at age twenty-two. My degree was in English, my training was minimal, and I didn’t possess any hard skills to help me make a living. This forced me to think on my feet!
Another difference was the world itself. I was living in New York pre-9/11. The economy was booming and-–though I could be wrong about this, and acknowledge that I’m speaking through a very specific lens–-I think life felt a little safer.
Also, I had two very loving and supportive parents–not just a mom, like Becca. My folks have referred to my acting years as “hard to watch.” It drove me crazy back then, but now that makes me smile with recognition. As a parent, I get anxiety just thinking about my son making a similar choice one day.
And even though I wasn’t dumped on the side of the road like Becca, I also had a broken heart I was trying to patch back together while at the same time facing “the real world” for the first time. I remember well feeling like a sort of Frankenstein lurching through the streets of New York, even though most of the time I probably appeared to be a bubbly college grad on her way to her waitressing job or an audition.
That dissonance between one’s inner life and the behavior required to function in the world is deeply interesting to me as a writer, and I tried to play with that and explore it in this book. For example, Becca is supposed to exude effortless confidence, youthful appeal, and authenticity when she’s having her (suuuuper expensive) headshots taken. Meanwhile, she feels humiliated, incompetent, and incredibly vulnerable.
I believe I am a young soul. By this, I mean that I feel like all of my wisdom is hard won and paid for with tons of mistakes and missteps in life and love. My girl Becca is like that, too. She ventures boldly forth without a lot of planning or strategic thinking, but with great hope and an overflowing heart. Though I’ve thankfully matured quite a bit over the years, it didn’t take much for me to tap into Becca’s psychology. One of the best parts about being an author is the opportunity to learn from my characters. In writing about Becca’s growing pains, I was able to understand more about my own and uncover the joy and humor that had existed right next to the discomfort all along.
Enter to win a copy of the book for yourself! US ONLY
Monday, July 10th: Who R U, Review
Tuesday, July 11th: Page Turners, Ode to LA Guest Post
Wednesday, July 12th: The Lovely Books, Review
Thursday, July 13th: YA Books Central, Playlist Post
Friday, July 14th: Fiktshun, Review
Monday, July 17th: Ex Libris, Review
Tuesday, July 18th: Such a Novel Idea, Author Post
Wednesday, July 19th: Book Crushin’, Review
Thursday, July 20th: Across the Words, Dream Casting Post
Friday, July 21st: The Reading Nook Reviews, Spotlight Post