Friday, May 23, 2014


Title: Being Hartley
Author: Allison Rushby
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: From author for review
My rating: 5/5


Fifteen-year-old Thea Wallis was born to entertain. Her mother, Oscar winning actress Cassie Hartley, thinks differently and has kept her daughter out of the spotlight since day one. Coming from showbiz royalty, it hasn't been easy to go unnoticed, but mismatched surnames, a family home in Tasmania and a low-key scriptwriter father has made this possible.

Just like her cousin Rory on the hugely popular TV show Saturday Morning Dance, Thea loves to dance. She learns the show's routines off by heart each week, despite her mother's attempts to convince her that dentistry would be a far more fulfilling career choice.

However, when Rory goes off the rails in LA, Thea's mother is suddenly left with no choice at all – Rory needs them and to LA they must go. Within forty-eight hours, Thea finds herself a long way from Tasmania and living her dream – on the road to Las Vegas with the Saturday Morning Dance team.

It doesn't take long before Thea's talents are discovered and she's offered everything she's ever wanted on a plate, including the dance partner she's had a crush on forever. But, as her mother has always told her, Hollywood dreams come at a price. Thea soon realizes she will have to work out just how much she's willing to pay. And, ultimately, discover her own way to be Hartley.


Being Hartley turned out to be such a pleasant reading experience. It’s one of those books you simply don’t want to put down once the story gets its hook into you. Where I would devour other such novels in one sitting, I instead savored it by reading only a few chapters a day, trying to hold onto this wonderful tale of family and love for as long as I could.

What made this such an extra special read for me is the family dynamics between the characters. Familial bonds are a very rare thing in YA. Imagine my surprise when I soon realized that family is the basis of this story. It made it such a different read from most other YA books where parents and adults responsible for the welfare of the teenage protagonist(s) are practically non-existent.

Although romance blossoms between Thea and Noah, it takes a backseat to the actual story of how close this family is.  Thea’s mom is an A-list actress who tries her best to keep Thea away from the limelight. In so doing, she unknowingly keeps Thea from chasing her dreams of dancing on the popular TV show, Saturday Morning Dance. Thus, one storyline focuses on Thea and her mom moving past their differences to strengthen their relationship. Though we see little of Thea’s dad, he’s also in the picture and leaves a good impression on the reader about a father doing the best for his daughter.

Simultaneously, there are also the relationships between Thea and her cousins, Rory and Allie, and the relationship between Thea’s mom and her two nieces, Rory and Allie. All in all there are quite a few characters to keep track of, but the author weaved all of it together so skillfully, the reader can effortlessly follow what’s going on with who at any given time. The interactions between all these characters are very real, and each character has their faults. I was thrilled by the fact that the main characters weren’t glorified, and the plot wasn’t conveniently suited to their needs. There’s also a lot to smile about with the witty interactions between Thea, Rory, and Allie. I enjoyed that Thea, her mom, and her two cousins are the main characters, and the romantic interests the secondary characters.  

I’m really happy I took a chance on Being Hartley. I definitely want to read more by this author. She knows her stuff and easily draws the reader into the world of her imperfect characters. Thea has respect for her parents, takes their feelings into consideration, and obeys the rules set out by them. This is also something I’ve very seldom come across in YA. I loved watching how Thea and her famous mom worked on their relationship, and how it strengthened. Overall this was a terrific, wholesome, enjoyable read I’d recommend to young and old alike!



Allison Rushby is the Australian author of a whole lot of books. She is crazy about Mini Coopers, Devon Rex cats and corn chips. You can find her at her website, procrastinating on Facebook, or on Twitter. That is, when she’s not on eBay, or Etsy, or any other place she can shop in secret while looking like she's writing…

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