In the Shadow of a Star
by JL Smith

"'Well, that is why we are here to find out what we are good at right?'"

Lucy and Gracie are best friends with unique life experiences and talents that shape who they are and who they will become. When tragedy strikes in Gracie's family, they are bound together forever as they begin their lives pursuing their dreams and goals after high school. Along the way, they encounter romance, adventure, and even dangers that threaten their safety. Through it all, they support each other, rely on each other, and occasionally misunderstand each other. With a spotlight on female friendship, this book delivers a special story of two very different young women finding their way in the world.

Although the book would benefit from some additional editing, the author does a good job of capturing the formative post-high school years. Those years between high school and full-time adulthood are full of intensity, experimentation, and mistakes with moments shot through with clarity and discovery. Smith captures this exciting time in the lives of her characters as they navigate college life in NYC, a trip to France, and career exploration. Their different paths allow Smith to connect to the various aspects of a young woman’s life. Gracie attends a community college and, through work experience, begins to consider a career in journalism. Lucy is creative and pursues the arts through performances in concerts and plays while attending school.

Both characters are fully developed with storylines that separate at times and converge at others. Themes of self-esteem emerge as Gracie feels sometimes like she is lost in the shadow of Lucy’s success on the stage. That pull to compare lives and choices is strong, and Gracie must learn to believe in herself and find her purpose apart from Lucy. The strong message of the book shines through as the story pulses with life.

Return to USR Home