‘Spiral’ – Jacqueline Levine
Still adjusting to life with his new stepfamily, complete with annoying twin sisters, seventeen-year-old Jack Hansen thought his Christmas Eve dinner couldn’t get any more complicated – until celebutante Cherie Belle walks into the room. The niece of Jack’s new stepfather, Jack had no idea the young starlet was even in the family. But his initial excitement quickly fades when the teen queen ruins dinner, humiliates his little brother, and storms out, leaving the blame for the night’s demise to fall squarely on Jack’s shoulders.
But then tragedy strikes for America’s tabloid princess, and Jack and his family are all Cherie has left. Suddenly, Jack finds himself riding the roller coaster that is Cherie Belle’s life: fending off the paparazzi, moving to California, and being cast in the tabloids as her new boyfriend. That part would be fine if it were true. Instead, Jack missteps onto Cherie’s bad side and becomes the target of her diva mood swings and mean-spirited pranks, as she goes to ridiculous lengths to make his life miserable.
Just when Jack is through playing nice, his life turned upside down, Cherie shows up drunk and sobbing, revealing she is far from over her parents’ deaths. He realizes she’s giving the public exactly what it wants: an epic fall from grace. Jack knows he should tell someone that Cherie is spiraling out of control. But once Jack begins to care about Cherie, it becomes harder to keep her secrets; especially when Jack becomes her biggest secret of all.
About the author:
Born and raised in New York, Jacqueline Levine is a new Indie author on the block. After seven years in the classroom, she decided to turn a play written for an after-school drama class into a full-length novel. Her experience teaching and mentoring young teens, combined with a guilty pleasure of reading celebrity news, inspired the themes and many of the scenes in the tale of a starlet’s fall from grace and the small-town boy who is doing everything in his power not to fall for her. After a year of hard work and editing, she self-published Spiral in August of 2013, and it is one of her greatest accomplishments.
‘Spiral’ by Jacqueline Levine follows two teenagers, Cherie and Jack, as they find themselves thrown together by tragedy. But with Cherie’s stardom and Jack’s troubled, angry past, the relationship is not a straight-forward boy-meets-girl and the two find themselves at the mercy of the media, in particular ‘Dirterazzi’. And if that wasn’t enough, the two are also having to adjust to Cherie’s guardians being Jack’s mum and step-dad… so they are having to live together in her glamorous Hollywood mansion.
Throughout the story we are given news stories from Dirterazzi, providing a glimpse into the media circus reporting on Cherie and Jack. I liked the tone of these pieces – you could really imagine these being on a gossip site and reflected the frenzy that you so often see today with celebrities. Shortly after Cherie’s parents are killed, Jack is under strict instructions not to visit such gossip sites because of the “news” that is reported. This is great, until there is a showdown between Jack, Cherie and his family/adopted sisters and suddenly it feels as if all of the characters are believing the news reports. I found this quite frustrating as it felt like Jack did not have a chance to defend his actions until the final scenes and left me wondering why his family suddenly believed such gossip sites.
It was frustrations like this that made me get a little bored with the narrative. After a while it was clear where the plot was going and whilst I did not predict the final scenes, found that the story lost a little substance half way through. With Cherie going “off the rails”, her behaviour and Jack’s reactions were typical of her trying to make Jack feel jealous. And it always worked. That being said, it was cute to read how Jack and Cherie finally do overcome their feelings and realise that, distractions and interferences aside, they genuinely want to be together. Indeed, the ending came across as quite conclusive so I was surprised to learn that there is another book in the series. I’d definitely be keen to know what happens next to Jack and Cherie – can they overcome the pressures of being in the spotlight?
In this novel, Levine does not make much of Jack’s siblings. He is part of an extended family and although some background is given to his troubled past and why his dad left them, I think it would have been great if the author had given Jack’s siblings a bit more of a spotlight in the story, such as how they adjusted to moving to Hollywood, or having a famous celebrity living with them. True, the twins become Cherie’s accomplices against Jack, but I think giving some insight into the family tensions that are implied throughout the story would have added more dimension to the plot.
This is an easy read and a cute romance novel. Whilst I did find it a little predictable, I wanted Jack and Cherie to find happiness. Levine does something different with ‘Dirterazzi’ and I liked the change in narrative voice throughout. Although everything seems to “come good” at the end, I am curious to know what the second in the series has to offer.
This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Excerpt from the novel:
Cherie had faded in and out the entire time we shopped, so I don’t pay attention to her. I don’t follow her gaze, and instead I proceed to pay the cashier. Britney asks to carry the grocery bag, and I fiddle with her coat to make sure it’s zipped. We’re immersed in our own worlds, our normal routines. I wish that for just a second I had noticed the growing media storm outside.
Because when we emerge from the supermarket, we are swarmed by humans with cameras for heads. There are all types – fans holding up cellphones, professional photographers, and news reporters with video cameras and microphones that they immediately thrust in her face.
“Cherie! Cherie how are you?”
“We love you Cherie!”
“We’re praying for you, Cherie!”
“Stop wearing furs! Do you know how many defenseless animals are killed for your stupid fur coats?”
“Cherie, will you still be hosting the New Year’s Ball with Caz?”
My head is spinning. We take a step left, and they step in our path. We swerve right, and there they are again, blocking our path. I look down at Cherie, who keeps her sunglasses down to hide her eyes. I can tell by her stiff, unsmiling mouth that she is unnerved. Her head hangs low, her shoulders curve inward, and she tucks her arms against her body. She is shrinking inside of herself.
But they don’t seem to notice. Or care.
“Cherie, are you going back to work on Choc it Up?”
“Cherie, is it true you were drinking at a nightclub the evening your parents died?”
“Cherie, is Jack your new boyfriend?”
Britney cries out, “Jackie!” before I have a chance to digest that last question. I look down and see she is engulfed by the photographers.
I’ve tried to keep my cool up until now, but these people have crossed a line. Frustrated, I command, “Move!” They part immediately. I lean down and hoist my sister up in one arm. I reach out with my free hand and grab Cherie’s. Gritting my teeth, I lower my head and plow through the crowd like we’re one yard short of a first down, and I have been given the ball. Surprisingly, they get out of my way.
But it doesn’t stop the questions.
“Jack – Jack, are you and Cherie dating?”
“Cherie, how does it feel to be an orphan? Can you give us a statement?”
The barking continues to swirl and swim around my head as we walk hastily forward. I do my best to tune them out and protect the girls. They both look like they’re about to cry, and I’m not sure who needs more shielding. I quickly deposit Cherie into the front seat.
“Buckle Britney in when I put her in the car seat,” I command, and she nods. I swing around to my side and drop Britney, who has started to cry from all of the commotion, into the back. It’s the first time I have ever set her down in the car without checking that she was safely buckled, but I trust Cherie to take care of it. I jump inside, start the engine, and throw the stick shift into reverse.
The cameras are everywhere. I honk my horn and gesture for them to move. I can get in trouble if I hit someone, and I would definitely lose my license. Frustrated, I shout, “Get out of the way!” I’m almost ready to hit someone anyway. They seem to sense I’ve reached my limit of patience and start to back away from my bumpers.
“Thank you! Geez! How the hell did all those people know we were there?” I mutter, more to myself than to Cherie. “Only two guys were outside when we first got there!”
“Those two guys tell two guys, and pretty soon you have a gaggle of them at your door,” she replies.
I’m baffled. “Tell me that this is not every day of your life.”
She shakes her head. “It wasn’t this bad before.”
* * *
CHERIE BELLE LOVE AFFAIR: REAL LIFE ROMANTIC COMEDY
Celebrities really are just like the rest of us: they trip, they fall, and they are caught in midair by a handsome prince charming that can’t tear his eyes off of…um…yeah, keep dreaming folks. That kind of stuff only happens to princesses, and celebutante Cherie Belle!
Cherie Belle stepped out yesterday for the first time since the funeral for her parents, who were killed in an automobile accident on Christmas Eve. Escorted by her new family member/possible love interest/arm candy, Jack Hansen, Cherie made her way to a local grocery store in upstate New York. Following our last report about Cherie’s dwindling waist size, we’re not really sure she’s going to eat the food she was buying, but that’s another story.
Our reporter on the scene claims the moment between Hansen and Belle, pictured above, was the kind of stuff romantic comedies are made of as Cherie, who was sporting her signature high heels, suddenly tripped and soared toward the ground. In a blur, Hansen, the 6’2” tight end (ahem, get your mind out of the gutter, ladies, it’s a position he plays for his high school football team) thrust his arm out and caught the teetering Belle just in time. Then, they stared into each other’s eyes, forgetting everything and everyone existed, even Hansen’s five year old sister. All these love-struck kids needed was a little Maroon 5 ballad playing in the background and some rain to make it a magical movie moment.
Cherie’s reps are keeping mum about Hansen’s relationship to their client, insisting he’s just a nice kid who is trying to help Belle for the short time she is in his hometown, and they want to emphasize the word short. No decision has been made yet about whether or not Cherie’s grandparents will be her permanent guardians, but Cherie isn’t letting an uncertain future keep her from fulfilling her duties as a star of the upcoming flick, “This Side of Sunny.” Cherie will be on the first flight back to Hollywood after she and Caz Farrell perform in Times Square for the Kidz Channel’s New Year’s Special. According to Carl Schwartz, Cherie will promptly begin touring and giving interviews to promote the movie.
From the looks of this picture, however, Jack Hansen isn’t letting Cherie out of his sight too easily. Even though she plans to perform with Caz Farrell on New Year’s Eve, one question still remains: Who will Cherie kiss when the ball drops?
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