Just to be clear, this book is not about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Okay, yes, it’s narrated by a fresh-faced actress who was probably best known for her role on a TV teen drama until she took a meeting with the biggest movie star on the planet, fell in love, and found herself in the eye of a media hurricane. But the strange, secretive religion her future husband is devoted to is called One Cell studios, not Scientology, and he jumps on the roof of a car to publicly declare his love for his young bride, not on Oprah’s couch, and a lot of other details (her hair, his height) could be anyone’s, which the book’s press materials are very, very careful to point out. So let’s all just be cool and agree that nobody needs to call their legal team, okay?
Great. So now we can relax and enjoy living vicariously in Lizzie Pepper’s poreless skin as she is wooed by the legendary Rob Mars, A-list idol of high-octane blockbusters and Oscar bait alike. Being his girl means entering a glittering world of Cannes premieres and private islands and personal-jet sex. (The long-whispered rumors that Rob is gay? Untrue!) It’s like a dream; he even promises to help Lizzie find meatier roles, and never pressures her to get involved in One Cell—though she does find herself increasingly disconnected from family and old friends and drawn closer to the people in his inner circle. But that’s just life as the wife of an icon: When a simple fro-yo run or a Malibu beach stroll requires military-grade security ops, sacrifices must be made. And Rob is basically a prince, always saying the perfect thing at the perfect moment—like a hero in one of his own movies. So why, even after the birth of their twin boys, does Lizzie feel like she doesn’t know the man she married much better than she did when he was a poster on her best friend’s bedroom wall? “Our love,” she muses, “was an absence, a clean white room with fresh paint and hospital corners and hinges that open without the slightest noise.”
Lizzie isn’t completely alone in her metaphorical room, of course. Our fictional heroine has expert help from best-selling celebrity ghostwriter Hilary Liftin, and readers who come for the dirt, real or imagined, won’t be disappointed; there’s plenty of gold in these True Hollywood hills. But Star is ultimately more sad than salacious—a love story not even the most talented actors could spin into a happily-ever-after. B+
OPENING LINE “I wasn’t really interested in the part: another helpless girlfriend—too small a role for me—but my management told me to take the meeting.”