Unfortunately, Birds of California never quite took flight for me.
Birds of California by Katie Cotugno is an adult contemporary novel which follows Fiona St. James, a former child actor turned party girl, who left the spotlight several years ago. When the network of her popular television show wants to do a reboot, they send one of her old co-stars, struggling actor Sam Fox, to convince Fiona to revitalize her role.
I have read a couple of Katie Cotugno’s YA novels, including: 99 Days, How to Love, and Fireworks. Overall, I found these books average. They weren’t necessarily books that I disliked, but they weren’t particularly memorable either. Specifically in my 99 Days review, I mentioned how I thought Katie Cotugno was trying to convey a take on an issue through her book, but it was only mildly successful in doing so. Birds of California gave me similar feelings. For me, it was an average read and gave a nod to stories we see time and time again in the media, but it lacked the depth to make me completely invested in the story.
Based on the cover of this book, readers may be expecting a more upbeat story inside, but this is not the case. Birds of California is a very somber story which explores how early stardom and the media led a woman into isolation and discouraged her from continuing her passion. Based on other writing that I have read by Cotugno, I wasn’t surprised by the overall mood and tone of this book. However, I think based on the books cover and description, some readers may be expecting more of a light-hearted romance, so they may be disappointed when that is not the case.
As for the romance, I have mixed feelings. I didn’t really buy Fiona and Sam’s relationship. They had some good banter and cute moments, but they seem to be on complete different trajectories in life. As a result, I couldn’t see them sticking together long after the story ends, which made me a little less invested in their romance.
Like I mentioned earlier, I feel like Katie Cotugno makes nods to different issues. For example, 99 Days brings up how there is a double standard in relationships between men and women. Meanwhile, Birds in California focuses on the vicious cycle of child celebrities, who become famous at a young age, act out, and are demonized by the press, but become more understood as they get older. Similar to her other works, I see what the author is trying to do, but it’s done either in a very obvious or surface level way that it just falls flat to me.
Overall, Birds of California was an okay read for me. I was somewhat interested in the story and its premise, but I felt like the execution could have been stronger. I also think this book suffers from the wrong advertising, as the synopsis and cover do not match what is inside the book. I give Birds of California 2.5 stars.
What was a book for you where the advertising does not match the content?
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