A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Leila Howland's Hello, Sunshine is about a teen who moves to Los Angeles to try to become an actress after she doesn't get into any of the colleges she applied to. Becca Harrington must confront the realities of moving to a new city by herself, tackling money problems, getting over her ex-boyfriend, and trying to land an agent. Strong language is fairly frequent, including "f--k," "ass," "bitch," and "bulls--t." Characters kiss, the main character has sex on two separate occasions, and in one scene she looks at pornography. Alcohol is approached casually, and underage characters are served drinks on many occasions.
What's the story?
In HELLO, SUNSHINE, Becca Harrington is the only student at her elite prep school who's not going to college. Reeling from her Juilliard rejection and an unexpected, harsh breakup with her boyfriend, Alex. Becca sets out to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress. She starts her journey in LA with a list of goals, including furnishing her apartment, getting back together with Alex, and making it in Hollywood. Becca must overcome grueling waitressing jobs to pay her rent, as well as constant rejection from agents while trying to pursue her passion and prove to herself -- and the rest of the world -- that she's good enough. With help from her best friends, Marisol and Raj, Becca copes with failure, insecurity, and heartbreak while paving her own path.
Is it any good?
Author Leila Howland's beautiful writing makes Becca, her story, and the city of Los Angeles come to life. With descriptive details about every corner of the city, Hello, Sunshine, reads like a love letter to LA from Becca's unique perspective -- much like a YA novel version of La La Land.
While Becca's initial plan seems naive, she eventually proves herself to be persistent, intelligent, and incredibly endearing. Though parts of the novel may seem unrealistic, Becca's charm and the quirky details incorporated into the plot turn this classic aspiring-actress-in-LA story into something unique and lovable. Teens will be able to relate to Becca's struggles with her appearance and with feeling undesired, as well as her paralyzing fear of failure and heartbreak. The novel includes big messages about love and deviating from a more traditional path, even though the ending is underdeveloped and a bit disappointing. While adults and teenagers will both laugh and be frustrated with Becca at points, her eccentric charm eventually wins everyone over -- both the characters in the book and its readers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how dealing with failure is portrayed in Hello, Sunshine. Does failing scare you away from trying things? What are some ways to cope with failure?
Do you think that Alex and Becca's relationship was healthy? What about Raj and Becca's?
Do you think Marisol was justified in lying about her background?
Would you move to a new city to follow your dreams like Becca did? What are some pros and cons of her decision?
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