Review: A Star is Bored by Byron Lane

by Heather Caliendo
book review a star is bored - book club chat

Editorial note: I received a copy of A Star is Bored in exchange for a review. 

A Star is Bored by Byron Lane is a funny and heartwarming story about an unlikely friendship. 

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been looking forward to A Star is Bored for quite some time! The story is influenced in part by the author’s time assisting Carrie Fisher. And as a fan of all the Star Wars movies and her later writing, I had a feeling I would really enjoy this story. It’s actually quite more moving than I expected!

The synopsis 

Charlie Besson is tense and sweating as he prepares for a wild job interview. His car is idling, like his life, outside the Hollywood mansion of Kathi Kannon, star of stage and screen and People magazine’s Worst Dressed list. She’s an actress in need of assistance, and he’s adrift and in need of a lifeline.

Kathi is an icon, bestselling author, and award-winning movie star, most known for her role as Priestess Talara in a blockbuster sci-fi film. She’s also known in another role: Outrageous Hollywood royalty. Admittedly so. Famously so. Chaotically so, as Charlie quickly discovers.

Charlie gets the job, and his three-year odyssey is filled with late-night shopping sprees, last-minute trips to see the aurora borealis, and an initiation to that most sacred of Hollywood tribes: the personal assistant. But Kathi becomes much more than a boss, and as their friendship grows Charlie must make a choice. Will he always be on the sidelines of life, assisting the great forces that be, or can he step into his own life’s leading role?

Real-life inspiration 

Earlier this year, Byron participated in a Q&A on the site and I asked him about how much of the book is true-to-life. He said:

Carrie and I had some wild times together–some of the best times of my life. Although this book is fiction and not about her, I did try to capture the spirit of what it was like to be a celebrity assistant for a larger-than-life movie star. And there are the seeds of some of our adventures–we did go dog sledding in Canada and stayed in an emperor’s hotel in Japan and took a gay cruise to the Bahamas. Some of that is inspired in the book, but many details and much of the plot are not exactly true to life.

So that’s something to keep in mind as you read this story, while it’s inspired by his time with Carrie, it’s still very much an original story. Even though it’s fiction, I do think it captured the spirit of what we anticipate Carrie to have been like: chaotic, fun, outrageous and loyal. 

Carrie famously told others “take your broken heart and make it into art.” And I think Byron definitely achieved this. 

The friendship

Charlie is thrown into an insane situation the minute he’s hired by Kathi. He’s not sure what he’s even supposed to be doing and she’s no help either. It takes him some time to get on his feet but he does eventually, especially with the advice of other celebrity assistants. Eventually, Charlie and Kathi grew quite close and both learn so much from each other. 

But Charlie is such a help to Kathi that he starts to lose his identity a bit as well. And when it turns out that Kathi might not actually be sober, it creates complicated and sometimes heart-wrenching scenes. 

The story never loses the humor but as I mentioned, it’s also full of heart. And features a really great ending. 

If you’re a fan of Carrie Fisher, you’ll for sure like this story. Or if you want to give a glimpse into the random world of celebrity assistants, this is a good choice. It was refreshing for me to read a story in one sitting that features many of the qualities that I look for in a read. So I can say that this lived up to the hype and more!

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