To kill time - and please his dad - Sam gets in the Central Casting line at the Hollywood film lot where his dad is pitching a script for a movie called Dark Cellars. Within minutes, he is spotted by company vice president Donald Miller, who wants to hire him on the spot as a stand-in for Trevor Goldman, the teen movie star and son of the most powerful director in Hollywood. He and his dad need the money, so Sam agrees to the job so long as it doesn't interfere with his baseball dreams: being selected as his team's MVP and going to UCLA's elite camp.
When Sam meets Trevor the next morning, the boys and Trevor's co-star and friend McKenna Steele are shocked at just how much they look alike. The boys hit it off, and Trevor loves listening to Sam's stories about playing baseball. Before they could get a friendship off the ground, Sam is fired. Trevor has wanted to play baseball his whole life. He pitches an idea to Sam: trade places for a couple of days, and he'll make sure Dark Cellars gets made into a movie. Reluctantly, Sam agrees. This is for his dad AND he can still play in the final game and get that MVP. But life doesn't always stay on script. Are the boys about to be found out?
Pretty early on in the story, you learn that Sam and Trevor are both adopted. The author does a nice job of giving the trading places plot some depth. Their relationships with the "other" parents add an undercurrent to the suspense of whether or not they will get caught.
Sam, Trevor, and McKenna are likable kids who, despite two of them living a movie star life, are pretty down to earth. Ditto the boys' fathers. Despite their very different backgrounds, they come across as fathers who are engaged and genuinely care about their sons. The same cannot be said for Trevor's mom. She is a bit too stereotypical for her role as Hollywood's first lady. If the author is trying to make the point of tech creating an environment of parental neglect, she is not reading this book.
My biggest disappointment with the book is the leap from the baseball diamond to the Goldman's backyard party. The book seems to be missing a chapter where it ties up loose ends about who knew what when and whether or not there were consequences for the boys. How did the families come to meet - because at the point of the baseball game, they had not. What was Trevor's mom's role in this? Did she know about Sam's birth? Is there more to the story of why she didn't want Sam around Trevor and got him fired?
Wholesome characters come together to create a great story. Whether your reader is a baseball fan or wants to be a movie star, the stage is set for them to play both roles.
Not a con, but something that adults need to be aware of. The book could prompt questions from readers who are adopted and don't know a lot about their biological parent(s).
This is a middle-grade novel that explores themes of friendship, family, and truth. [High Interest / Low Readability potential for reluctant readers.]
Read this story for fun. It is a quick, wholesome read.
11 and Up
10 and Up
Borrow. This is a fun, fast read, but not a story with long shelf appeal.