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Backstage Pass: The Hollywood Sisters    by Mary Wilcox order for
Backstage Pass
by Mary Wilcox
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The Ortiz family's move from a small ranch house in Anaheim to a healthy lot in Beverly Hills is due to Eva Ortiz's success as a TV teen in the series Two Sisters. But someone wants to destroy Eva's reputation through spiteful lies to the gossip columns. In steps thirteen-year old sister Jessica, who is determined to use her sleuthing powers to stop whoever intends to damage sister Eva (whom she refers to as 'E'). Jessica deduces that one or more of the following will help solve the mystery of who wants to upstage Eva: Motive - jealousy or money needs satisfied by selling to the tabloids; Opportunity - those who have access to the show's set; and Means - a handy camera for taking pics at odd moments. (It doesn't just apply to tabloids as Eva's $1500 Caroline Herrera, newly-designed gown is missing from the wardrobe department, while Jessica gets warning messages on her cell.)

Jessica's Project Stop Slander lists suspects including a male actor, 'one kick-butt publicist', as well as Eva's costars Lavender Wells and Paine Carey, who originally were to be the stars of the sitcom before Eva's arrival. Dark-haired, violet-eyed Lavender has a love for everything lavender-colored, and works to thicken her Georgia accent (even though she and her parents left that state when Lavender was eight). Lavender's ascension to fame came when she was the winner of ABC's first Teen Sensation contest, plus as Jessica puts it: 'She is 'so magnolia-sweet you could get a sugar rush from talking to her'. As for Paige, well - she's a 'trend slave', i.e. whatever Vogue magazine lists 'as the new It Color', dear Paige goes along with it even if at times she 'looks as though she's been attacked by an angry salad'.

Jessica at times freezes up when attempting to talk to people, causing her to avoid public-speaking. Mom (who also serves as Eva's guardian) calls Jessica's attention to books about shy denial. Eva is the opposite - she is driven, definitely not shy, and liked by all (supposedly). She has been nominated for Young Latina of the Year (a tutor helps Eva with her Spanish), and a part in a full-length film has been proposed. All hands on the set are leery of getting too close to Jessica, especially after a clumsy accident involving marmalade, referred to as the Ashton incident. An incident occurs when George Clooney makes an appearance on the set, a stage exec has an allergic reaction to Jessica's chip and dip, and she is considered a jinx. She may be outlawed from the staging set.

Mary Wilcox's creation is similar to a one-person stage comedy delivery, with a staccato rhythm of short-clipped phrasing and sentences, which will appeal to younger teens. Jessica's narration is set in Seven Acts followed by numbered Scenes serving as chapters. Backstage Pass sets the stage as the first in The Hollywood Sisters series.

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