Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he’s on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert.
Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something more. Being demisexual can be confusing.
From the City of Angels to the small mountain town of Abby, Oregon, Josy will give his all to make sure his dreams come true—even the ones he never thought possible.
How To Be A Movie Star was as adorable as its adorkable predecessor, How To Be A Normal Person, albeit a bit too rambling.
Josy is an aspiring actor hoping to get that big break. He’s a walking ray of sunshine, an out and proud demisexual hipster and a radio trivia savant who one day won tickets to what he thought was a poetry reading event at the library. This turned out to be a reading of a book about a rhyming sasquatch and his lover authored by Q-bert a.k.a Quincy.
And he was wearing a tie. With rabbits on it. And that did things for Josy.
Josy and Quincy’s first meeting was an all sorts of awkward, friend-crush at first sight moment (squee~!). One of the rare instances that Josy was speechless. After that, he was very determined to make Quincy his friend.
Quincy is a writer of monster porn making his first foray into film-making. He and Josy got off at the wrong foot where he assumed Josy shot him down when he asked the hipster out for a date.
What followed was an embarrassing case of online stalking and waiting on tables until the brilliant hand of Dee conspired to pull things together for The Audition. This bought them to Abby, Oregon, the hometown of Gustavo Tiberius, socially awkward video store owner, encyclopedia reader and boyfriend of Casey Richards, writer of vampire/werewolf teen romance and asexual hipster. Stars of HTBANP and Josy’s bestfriends.
I love getting plenty of Gus and Casey, catching up with We Three Queens, Lottie, and Serge and Xander, Josy’s other bestfriends. The new characters were just as extra as the rest, the very campy Roger, Quincy’s grandfather, and the aforementioned Dee, his tattooed friend and personal assistant. Also, a LOT of monster porn cosplayers. T.J. Klune outdid himself with these characters.
Quincy wanted to give queers a happy movie and I’m giving that a big two-thumbs up because we all need more of those. Understandably, the shoot and the movie scenes took a big chunk of the story but I found my self kind of wishing it would just get to the point already. Some of the jokes weren’t as funny as they were meant to be and while I chuckled at the general randomness of things, a few punchlines took a long time coming (because Josy goes off one tangent after another). Also, nay on weed. Yes, I recognize the medicinal properties but in my corner of the world, things that get people inebriated or high tend to leave somebody stabbed or worse, hence the infamous “war on drugs”.
How To Be a Movie Star was a fun book that spoke to me on so many levels. I see different aspects of myself in Josy, Quincy, Gus and Casey. Heck, Josy even hates the same president.
There is an amazing amount of love in the book, highlighting the idea that it didn’t need to be romantic or sexual to be strong or moving. Platonic love for a friend or even passion for a craft could be as equally compelling. The story also made a very important point about mental health and self-care.
“I’m a Rubik’s Cube,“ Josy said honestly. “I’m made up of rainbow colors, but they’re all out of order, and you need to spin me around until I start making sense.”
Josy remained Josy no matter what. He blew Quincy’s mind (and everybody else’s) with his veritable Josy-ness. He went to great lengths to pursue his acting. He and his friends were never shy about showing affection to each other. Josy taught Quincy there are other ways of showing somebody you love them other than sex. Extra props again to the author for making his aces and demis shiny, happy people. It’s a very uplifting message because certainly, not everyone in this spectrum is introverted or angsty.
Quincy blogged about mental health. He suffers from anxiety and depression and used his social media to reach out and share his experiences with others. I loved how he bravely dealt with his anxieties. Even with all his self-doubts, he pushed himself and went beyond his comfort zone. He inspired other people with similar difficulties and gave them a safe space online. He never to tried to changed anything about Josy. And, out of the freakin’ blue, he made a very gutsy move that left me flabbergasted! Like, OMFG, I can’t believe he actually did it!!! I wanted to hug him!
T.J. Klune has written many wonderful stories, but the How To Be series will always stand out as one of his most memorable. They sparked joy in their quirky celebration of all sexuality, of being true to oneself, of following your dreams and of the bright lights we meet in darkness.
Recommended for those looking for that ray of sunshine.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits