Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Starstruck
  • Written by Cyn Balog
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385738514
  • Our Price: $8.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Starstruck

Buy now from Random House

  • Starstruck
  • Written by Cyn Balog
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375894947
  • Our Price: $7.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Starstruck


    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Written by Cyn BalogAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Cyn Balog


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: July 12, 2011
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89494-7
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Starstruck Cover

Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Starstruck
  • Email this page - Starstruck
  • Print this page - Starstruck


Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her--she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman--or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via email, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish emails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish--according to his Facebook photos--has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati--an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be--or are they star-crossed?



For the first time in four years, I've lost my appetite.

I mean, how can I think of eating when I can't even breathe?

"Look at her," my little sister, Evie, sings. "She's lost in love."

Evie has obviously been listening to my mother's eighties tapes too much. Love is the last thing on my mind. The first thing is sheer terror. Second is hopelessness. Third is a desire to run away, far away, into the night, screaming like a banshee.

I stare at the screen of my computer. My hands shake on the keyboard. I can just make out a bit of my reflection: my cheeks look like two fat red balloons, glistening in the sunlight slashing through my bedroom window. Evie and my mom hover above me, peering over my shoulders at another daily email from Wish. Normally I'd never let them within a five-mile radius of one of our top secret lovefests, but the five-alarm wail that escaped from my mouth must have made them think I'd just read that the island of Cellar Bay was sinking into the ocean.

At this point, that would be happy news.

MOM got a condo in Cellarton! Guess she couldn't STAND to be on the same island as MY DAD, ha ha! It's right by the bridge to Cellar Bay, though.

"Why didn't you tell us Wish is coming back here?" my mom asks, kneading my shoulder like I'm one of her famous breads.

If I had known, she would have, too. It would have been obvious. I would have sworn off white cream donuts and Tae-Boed myself into a stupor. Squirreled away some of my earnings from the bakery to buy a hot new wardrobe, and invested the rest in that miracle acne cure celebrities are always peddling on infomercials. Now there's no time. I'd need a year to get back to my twelve-year-old self. And a fairy godmother. Instead, my long-distance boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman III, will be on a collision course with planet Gwendolyn, all 234 pounds of her, in, oh, t minus seventy-six hours.

My mom studies the email. "Does it say why he's coming back?"

I shrug, numb. Because he wants to prove to me that just when you think your life is at its absolute suckiest, it can always get worse?

"We'll have him over for dinner," she says, completely oblivious to my meltdown.

"Ma, you want to welcome him, not kill him," Evie points out.

Though my mom knows everything about baking, that's where her knowledge of food ends. My mom's fanciest dinners are really prepared by Mrs. Paul or the Gorton's fisherman. But her culinary skills, or lack thereof, are the least of my concerns. I read the last line again:

I can't wait to see you IN PERSON finally and KISS my BEAUTIFUL GIRLFRIEND. It's been like a DREAM for me for SO LONG!!!

Wish has a knack for unnecessarily capitalizing everything and overusing exclamation points, like a ten-year-old girl, which is something I never realized until we started emailing back and forth each day. At first, I didn't mind it, but now it annoys me. Of course, maybe I wouldn't be annoyed if I wasn't so sure his enthusiasm was going to totally deflate within seconds of seeing me. He doesn't know I'm not worthy of three exclamation points. I'm probably not even worthy of a measly comma. The only recent pictures I've sent him were from the neck up, or so fuzzed out that I looked like the Blob in drag. But none of this is my fault. It's his fault for deciding to let his mother take him across the country to L.A. to live with his wacko grandmother when his parents split up. It's his fault for leaving me so heartbroken and alone that the first thing I did after watching his mother's BMW pull away was sit in the back room of the bakery and eat an entire tray of cannoli. His fault for sending me a daily email for the past four years, making me salivate so much for a kiss from him that all I could do to tell my mouth to behave was fill it with jelly donuts. His fault.

"He can't come back here," I say, digging my fingernails into the skin of my fleshy thighs, which somehow seem even bigger than they did when I woke up this morning. "Our relationship is perfect the way it is."

Evie snorts. "You're so weird, Dough."

I bury my face in my hands. That's another thing. I have no social life. No friends. Nothing normal, non-weird people have. Nothing, except him.

And twenty bucks says soon I won't even have that.


First let me explain something about the kissing, or lack thereof. Wish and I have been best friends ever since first grade, when we fought over Curious George at Cellar Bay Elementary School, this little brick building on Main where we were two of a handful of students. But a love for that cheeky monkey wasn't the only thing we had in common, we realized. Soon we were the complete-each-other's-sentences kind of friends. We were always together, like peanut butter and jelly.

We stayed best friends until right before junior high, when he moved away. That was when his parents split up and his mom took him to live with her mother, Grandma Bertha, this real nutcase of a woman who always used to talk about auras and astrology and that kind of crap. The one time she visited Jersey, she told me that my aura was black and dead and that I was invading her peace, which was just fine with me, because she was obviously insane. I felt bad that a normal guy like Wish had to live with such a creepy old lady.

So anyway, our relationship didn't develop into a boyfriend-girlfriend thing until he'd been in California for a while. After we'd emailed back and forth for two months, he asked me out. In real life, Wish is a total wuss when it comes to his feelings, like most guys, but he turned out to be a lot more confident in email. I could tell he was lonely at his new swanky private school in L.A., because he kept saying how much he missed me and how he would never find another girl like me.

From the Hardcover edition.
Cyn Balog

About Cyn Balog

Cyn Balog - Starstruck

Photo © Angela Pursell

My grandfather, Orlando Bianco, was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, quiet Italian. Yes, those do exist. But like the stereotypical Italian who prefers a good glass of red wine with his pasta and gestures way too much with his hands, he had a fiery temper. He’d lounge in his rocker on the front porch of his home on Seventh Avenue in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and I remember him getting upset more than once when I’d leave for the evening wearing pants that were much too tight for his liking.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe our grandparents were ever our age. I explored this generation gap in my novel, Sleepless. Eron is a Sandman who died in 1910. He is very much like my grandfather. In fact, Eron’s history is taken from a story my mother told me about my grandfather’s past, one I never knew while I was traipsing about town in those too-tight pants. My grandfather had come over to this country from Italy with his mother when he was only a few years old. Neither of them spoke English. A marriage had been arranged in Newark, New Jersey. My grandfather was brought into a family with several stepsiblings, none of whom was happy about the arrangement. They ignored him on good days, treated him horribly on bad ones. 

I was told that he left school in sixth grade. That he worked for a jeweler. That he met my grandmother and married very young. That he eventually started his own successful oil company and bought that seaside home. That he was also quite the adventurer before he resigned himself into that rocking chair on the front porch. I knew him as the guy who saved everything, even large jars of pop-up turkey timers in the garage, in case he could find another use for them. Who thought most TV was trash and would only watch Lawrence Welk and Golden Girls reruns, at wall-shaking volume. But he had this whole other life before I came around, one that I never knew about until he was gone. I think maybe if I had learned more about him, I would have understood that he was a product of his time. That actually, when you looked at it through his eyes, through his experiences, all of his weird behavior made sense.

If there’s one memory I have of my grandfather, it was one night when the whole family was together, playing a card game called Michigan Rummy for pennies. The old wisdom was that if you want luck, you needed to walk around your chair, clockwise, three times. After the cards were dealt, my grandfather looked his over, sighed, then silently threw his cards down and started walking around his chair. He was such a practical person so that was my first indication of how even the people closest to us can surprise us. No, my grandfather didn’t have a very happy youth, and his life was one in which the things that mattered most were seemingly insignificant, like pop-up turkey timers and the clothing choice of his granddaughters. But maybe, I realize now, they’re not so insignificant. And maybe, wherever he is now, he’s finally reaping the good fortune of that walk around the chair.

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: