Book Review: Movie Girl by Christina Hamlett

Christina Hamlett’s Movie Girl inspired several readers to send in their own reviews.

A Reader’s Review

I love this book! As a person who graduated from high school over 30 years ago, Movie Girl by Christina Hamlett reminds me of the time when having a bad hair day or getting a zit was social disaster. A time when getting asked to the high school dance was a matter of life or death.

Movie Girl is the story of sophomore Laurie Preston and her crush on hunky senior, Artie Weisberg. When their school gets a film grant and Laurie is chosen to be the lead screenwriter, she sees it as her lucky break to make Artie finally fall in love with her. The trouble is, Artie doesn’t know she exists. She concocts a plan with her best friend, Kathy, to get Artie to ask her to the Winter Dance. She knows if he doesn’t ask her to the dance, she’ll totally die…and the future of their unborn children could be at stake!

Movie Girl is teen angst at its most humorous. It’s so good you can almost smell the Clearasil. – Maggie K., Sheridan, Oregon

A Reader’s Review
The once scrawny, mop-topped Laurie Preston is now a blossoming, quick witted, boy-crazy fifteen year old. Aspiring Junior Miss Cambridge, Kathy, is her best friend except when they’re in a super huge fight, of course. Laurie is full of teen angst; she is deeply frustrated by the immaturity of many of her high school friends.  All of her private thoughts about the trauma of her perpetual “bad timing,” rants about the giggly annoying Keena Nina Feeney, and her intention to one-day marry her dreamboat, Artie, fill up the pages of her diary. Arthur Jerome Weisberg, otherwise known as Artie, is her obsession. He is without a doubt, the most interesting, flawless and cutest guy on this and all other planets.

In school, surrounded by pimple-faced punks, a pensive Laurie pontificates, “Why waste time having homeroom when clearly none of the homeroom teachers have regular classes? Who wouldn’t feel anxious, clumsy and vulnerable about the way their bum looks in those geeky green gym outfits?” Still, the super hot Artie Weisberg is the reason to wash her hair each day. The sad truth is that she is practically invisible to him.

Laurie is chosen to lead a young filmmaker’s project, secretly she romanticizes of casting Artie as her leading man. And when she is not becoming Paul Revere High’s first screenwriter or daydreaming about becoming the future Mrs. Weisberg, Laurie experiences life lessons about friendship and teamwork, as well as the importance of ignoring the gossip and toxic rumors that can ruin relationships.

Finding love in high school can be heartbreaking; Christina Hamlett’s, Movie Girl also makes it funny. The surprise ending flashed me back to the good ole days, like the time when I received my driver’s license for the first time. I remember the moment was something like how I’d imagine receiving the Oscar or the Nobel Peace Prize would be; funny, sweet memories. Marci W., Maui, Hawaii

A Mother’s Review

In Movie Girl, Laurie Preston is a sophomore attending a high school that has just won a grant to write and film its own movie. Laurie has been elected to write the script. To Laurie, this is a dream come true because her master plan is to create a script starring Artie Weisberg. Artie Weisberg is Laurie’s senior heartthrob who is totally oblivious to Laurie’s crush. Unfortunately, to Laurie’s dismay, she learns that writing a script is a lot more burdensome than she first anticipated. Between Kathy, her self-centered best friend, the chess nerds Dean and Ellis, her best guy friend Gus, and Lyn, the new girl from Vietnam, all fighting for parts, she almost quits the movie committee altogether. But the wisdom of her grandmother Sylvia, the support of her mother and father, and the learning she does along the way, all helps her pull through.

In this book we see the author, Christina Hamlett, touching on typical teenage challenges. We see the growing apart of long time best friends to the agonizing torture of being in puppy love with an unknowing senior hunk. There is the budding friendship with an outsider and the confusion of starting to look at that all-too-comfortable guy friend in a whole new way. The book even touches on the poignancy of a refugee fleeing from the poverty of a foreign country to seek safety in America.

Each chapter begins with a journal entry from Laurie that gives the reader a personal touch. The author is very loyal to teenage lingo, which makes the reading very fun. For example, Kathy’s outcry to Laurie’s dad’s offer to make s’mores for the girls during a sleep over:  “Puh-leeze, that is sooo second-grade!”  The book is quite entertaining and the pages flip quickly. I almost caught myself chewing gum with my mouth open and twirling a lock of hair around my finger while reading this book! Turning to the final page is definitely very bittersweet. I’ll be tapping my toes in anticipation of the next book in the series!

A Grandmother’s Review

Movie Girl by Christina Hamlett is a book which every teen/tween (and some older) girls would love to have on their bookshelves. Hamlett’s writing evokes a sweet and innocent period of adolescents of the past, their “girlie” talk, and whispered confidences about boys. The writer sympathetically captures the inner-mind and the whirling emotions of adolescent girls.

Laurie Preston, a high school student, experiences the highs and lows of all teenagers, and the bittersweet feelings of first love … and the angst of her love unreciprocated. She writes long romantic, self-conscious passages in her diary, weaving dreams around her one and only true love, Artie Jerome Weisberg, her future husband and father-to-be of her children.

Receiving a grant to make a film, Laurie’s high school selects her to write the script to be produced by her class. Laurie also sees this is an opportunity to be noticed by Artie.

In writing the screenplay, Laurie assigns herself and Artie leading roles in a romance—Lauren True Heart and MacArthur Wedlock. Puppy-like, she follows Artie around using clumsy pretences to coincidentally bump into him. Laurie’s life devolves into chaos. The film-making committee has to come to the rescue of storyline of the script. She nearly loses the friendship of a truly nice boy.

With humour and light touch Hamlett skillfully brings to vivid life Laurie’s family, her friends, and other characters at her school. Laurie is particularly close to her patient father and her grandmother. These family dynamics enable Laurie to grow and resolve her dilemmas her own way.

Kathy, Laurie’s best friend, Lyn a Vietnamese, her pal Gus, a young artist, Ellis and Dean, members of the chess club, and others—all in their different ways contribute to Laurie’s growing awareness and maturity. Drawing on her own experiences in the film industry, Hamlett gently guides the reader on formatting a script. In introducing two names, Robert Burns and Ogden Nash, on opposite sides of the poetry genre, Hamlett also opens a vista for curious young readers to explore.
For anyone tending to buy that special gift for a teen/tween, I highly recommend Movie Girl by Christina Hamlett. —  Danielle J., Australia

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