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'Falling Stars' concludes series based on gifted artistic teens

Looking Out
Looking Out
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

"Falling Stars" by V.C. Andrews

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This is the fifth and final book in the “Shooting Star” series by V.C Andrews (ghostwritten by Andrew Neiderman), describing the adventures of the four girls introduced in the earlier books after they arrive at the fictional exclusive Senetsky School for Performing Arts. It is told in the first person by Honey, the violinist from the Ohio corn farm.

The Senetsky School is imposing, an estate onto itself within New York City. Besides the four girls—Cinnamon, Ice, Rose and Honey—there are only two other students: Steven Jesse, a pianist, and Howard Rockwell, an actor. There are no upper classmen. Each student has a specialty. The faculty is hand-picked and works with the student to develop not only his/her own talent, but also overall abilities. In addition, Madame Senetsky sees to it that the students are taken to the finest plays, museums and galleries. Top New York chefs come and give cooking demonstrations so that Senetsky grads will have the most discriminating palates.

Madame Senetsky and her son, a theatrical agent, have private apartments on the grounds. Pupils are strictly forbidden to approach them for any reason. Any communication with the Senetskys must go through Madame’s personal assistant, the frosty Laura Fairchild.

Within weeks of arriving, the six much put on a “Performance Night,” a concert/theater performance not only for family, faculty and staff, but for agents in the audience who come on the strength of the Senetsky School’s reputation. There is a brief meet and greet after the show where some business cards are handed out.

This all sounds wonderful, if rather improbable, particularly with only six students. But, of course, there are some downsides. Friction arises between the students. And sadness. There have been some personal tragedies in Madame Senetsky’s past but no one talks about them and the students are warned not to ask. Briefly, one day Madame tells Honey that she reminds her of her daughter who passed away years ago.

Then there’s that shadow that Honey and Rose notice on the fire escape, and clothes start going missing….

Anyone who’s read Jane Eyre can figure out a good deal of where things are going from here. Of course, the book is not written for an audience likely to have read Jane Eyre.

As with the other books, this one is not carelessly written, but it is shallow. It depicts a lively if unrealistic world of students striving for an education in the performing arts. The girls work together and their characters are clearly drawn. The dialogue is serviceable and believable. Nevertheless, it is escapist and silly. To be read on a rainy day with a cup of hot cocoa—perhaps with a little peppermint schnapps added—but I can’t recommend it.