Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney


Starry Nights
by Daisy Whitney
To be published by Bloomsbury
on September 3, 2013

Source: e-ARC from Netgalley. Please see my full FTC disclosure on the right sidebar.



Summary from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating. The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Buzzwords: magical realism, Paris, art themes

My take: Okay, I'll admit right off that magical realism is not usually for me, unless it's an element in a children's book. In YA and adult books, I usually find it too weird and trippy. Yes, I know that adults need magic too. Feel free to lecture me about this in the comments if you want.

So … the magical realism was not my favorite part of Starry Nights, and I wasn't crazy about the "greatest love he's ever known" that Julian finds with a girl in a painting.

But …. I still found a lot in Starry Nights that I enjoyed:

1. Paris. I have been to Paris a couple of times and it's a city I absolutely love, even though I don't speak a word of French. I've visited many of the settings in the book: the Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre, and Monet's garden at Giverny. Here are my photos of some of the places the book mentions:

Close up view of Lover's Bridge -- from the prologue.

Musée d'Orsay, where Julian gives tours. The building was a former railway station.

Monet's gardens at Giverny

2. Parisian teens: It was such a great change to read about French teenagers instead of American ones. I thought that Julian, his gender-bending new friend Bonheur, Bonheur's adorable sister Sophie, and aspiring ballet dancer Emilie were all fun and engaging characters.

3. Calling Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my favorite books as a kid and I still read it from time to time. It didn't feature magical realism, but it did follow two kids who hide out in the Metropolitan Museum and solve the mystery behind a mysterious statue. Starry Nights had some similarities -- Julian's mother runs the Musée d'Orsay, so he can also sneak in and out whenever he wants, and he's trying to solve a bunch of mysteries: why does the art come to life when he's around? Why are some of the paintings at the museum starting to fade?

4. An excellent author's note: I love it when authors use real events and people to inspire their stories. But I hate when they neglect to add a note at the end to explain where they took creative license. Starry Nights has a fantastic author's note that explains everything -- I was surprised to learn there's a lot of reality in this book to go along with the magic. Fascinating!

Julian is supposed to be seventeen, but Starry Nights still read to me like a book on the younger end of the YA spectrum. Maybe it was the whole "paintings coming to life" thing, or that way that Julian fell for a girl in a painting with all the wide-eyed, worshipful fervor of a tween staring at a One Direction poster, but he felt much younger to me.

But if you're a reader of any age who is a Francophile, an art lover, or a fan of magical realism, I definitely recommend that you give Starry Nights a try. If, like me, you prefer your books with more grit and less quirk, try Daisy Whitney's YA contemporary, When You Were Here. 

16 comments:

  1. Hmm...this is on my schedule to review but I'm nervous about the magical realism element as I haven't had the best luck with those kinds of books (see September Girls and Imaginary Girls or maybe it's the fact that both titles mention "Girls"). I hope I enjoy this one and even if I don't, I'll still plan on reading When You Were Here.

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    1. I haven't read either of those so can't comment, but will be curious to see how you come out on this. Even though magical realism isn't my thing, I still enjoyed the art themes and the setting.

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  2. I love that it is set in Paris. And I feel magic can be used a little so long as it is not so much. Cause then I start to think that it is paranormal or supernatural event happening. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Magical realism can be hit and miss for me too, but I probably like it more than you do. I think I would probably love the setting the most. Thanks for the review!

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    1. The setting was fabulous. I felt transported!

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  4. I love I love your photos! The setting and art themes draw me in, as does the Parisian male narrator, but magical realism doesn't always work for me. I liked LIfe of Pie and Like Water for Chocolate (mostly), but something about adding fantasy elements into contemporary weirds me out. I do love Basil E. Frankenweiler. Definitely a fave of childhood! I have a copy of this one and will probably read it eventually, but I'm not rushing out pick it up.

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    1. I don't mind the books where there's just one small bit of MR -- like What Alice Forgot -- but a little goes a long way for me.

      Look forward to hearing your thoughts when you read it!

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  5. I don't read younger YA or middle grade often, to be honest. I orefer the more mature side of YA. But I doubt I'll be able to resist the Parisian setting, it being my weakness and all.
    I'll probably give this a chance eventually. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Well, this is definitely YA -- the characters are 17 -- but somehow, and maybe it was either the magical realism or the romance, it felt like a younger story...

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  6. Oh dear. Magical realism is hit or miss for me too, and if you're saying younger end of YA, this probably isn't for me--especially since I only had so-so feelings about her last book. BUT BUT BUT. Paris is wonderful, and so are your photos!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. The setting is just fabulous. That is what kept me reading … and happy.

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  7. Yay! I really liked this book, I definitely fit into your categories of people who would: Francophile, art lover, AND a fan of magical realism:) I know this book won't be for everyone but it was such a nostalgic read for me--I've been to Paris and the Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre--seen so many of those paintings mentioned, reading this just took me back. It seemed like a fairy tale to me in a way. Yes to Parisian teens instead of American teens--loved that as well.

    I love the pics you included--way to use those visual aids:)

    Great review!

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  8. Like you, I don't read that many magical realism books, but I have read a few that were pretty good. This one sounds like I would enjoy it. So I'll add it to my wish list.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Andreea

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  9. This book sounds really cute! :) I've had some issues with magical realism- seriously, Imaginary Girls was unbelievably weird and I did NOT understand it- but I think I'd enjoy this book! I've always wanted to go to Paris (you are one lucky duck having gone there plenty of times!) and yes, I agree that books set in different countries are a fresh change! :) I think I'll add this book on my TBR list!

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  10. Julian is 17, how many "great loves" has he had? And I LOVED From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. One of my all time favorite books!

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