3 Hearts · YA Contemporary

Counting Stars by Jordan Deen




Love is a luxury for the weak. At least that’s what Madison Nottingfield’s father always said.

Coming from a long line of old southern money, Madison has come to accept the uncomfortable job of helping her father in his pursuit of wealth and social status. But by the time she turns seventeen, she’s grown weary of being her father’s favorite way to gain power and prestige.

After being nominated to one of the few debutante positions in her affluent country club, Madison thinks her life’s about to hit easy street. If she can learn to stand on her own two feet, she wouldn’t need to succumb to her father’s whims. For once, she can do what she’s always dreamed of doing; she can’t wait to move forward with her secret plans of ditching her ballet slippers to sing at the year-end talent show—the most important event of the entire year.
All of Madison’s hard work seems to be falling in to place, until her conniving parents make a demand…

So unthinkable
So life-shattering
So vile
…it almost completely stops Madison in her tracks. Would their plans for her future kill the one thing she desperately desires?

Refusing her parents’ request would mean losing everything… family, friends, and her pedigree. But, giving in would mean turning her back on the only thing she’s ever truly wanted.


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This story has so much promise. I really loved the concept, even if the female protagonist is a stuck-up southern debutant snob. It is coming of age story that asks the question: Who do you let dictate your life?

Maddison is the perfect daughter to her parents. As the only child she has every monetary thing money could buy. Big house, new BMW, lives in luxury, but she still has her little secrets. Like her ballet lessons that have evolved to include hip-hop and singing. She has been raised and taught to live by specific social rules. This is her norm: her friends, her attire, who she dates and escorts to events is all dictated to her, but her parents then force her into working on a performance piece with the schools most undesirable. Rand McDaniel’s lives with his older sister and father. He works, goes to school and has a little music gig on the side.  At school he keeps to himself, because he is no legacy. No money, no connections, and doesn’t care one way or another about any of that, but now he needs an in. That ‘in’ comes in the form of beautiful, far out of his league Maddison.The story is told from the POV of Maddison. She is your modern day Cher from Clueless only with a southern style. One of my favorite things about the book is the fact that Maddison enjoys 90’s teen movies. I love that. She is always watching one.

The story is captivating. It was a fast read and has many good parts. I was hoping the ending would have been better, but the overall growth of Maddison from her parent’s-mini-snob to her own young woman was nice.

There were somethings in the story that I wasn’t a fan about. Maybe these are norms, that I am unfamiliar with it.1. Parental discipline and abuse? She talks about how often her mother slaps her face if she talks back to her. Her father disowning her? That is just crazy. I have heard of things like that, but it is just crazy. Image is so important to them. The only way for them to keep that so called “image” is to control everything they can, including their own daughter.

2. Her arrangements with dating. Her father pretty much pimps her out to be an “escort” to other families eligible sons. It is absolutely insane. And they know what she does. They encourage her to ‘put out’ to keep a boys interest.

  Here are some questions that were not answered.

1. Why does the story just jump to the climax? It is like Maddison has her epiphany and decided to do something, and then it jumps 4 months into the future with her leaving for college. Okay, I wanted to know what happened. What the heck? We have all the buildup, and then nothing! Total downer.

2. What happened with her parents? I mean she decided to be with Rand, but there has to be repercussions for that. There is no way her parents just went from her being okay to being tied to a suitable young man to a ‘lower class’ guy. It makes no since. I don’t know why nothing more was said. We do get a few sentences about the money her parents are putting through to help the McDaniel’s, but still it just doesn’t add all up to the way her parents acted.

3. We find out all the back story with Liam and Val, and what happened there, but then we get barely anything about Maddison and Rand. And what about Trish? What ever happened to her? Maddison was so concern over her friend, but then left us in a complete lurch.Good parts:
There writing was okay. It had some mistakes which can be cleaned up (hopefully) by an editor.

I give it a 3 hears.
I liked it
but it needs more work:
more to the ending, more editing.
There were too many unanswered questions.


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Jordan Deen is an Award-Winning Young Adult and New Adult Fiction writer from a small suburb of East St. Louis, Illinois. Her novels are a mixture of urban fantasy, paranormal, and edgy contemporary. In her free time, she loves to read, bake, attend concerts, travel, and play with her two-legged and four-legged sons. She is known for her love of quirky clothes, multi-colored hair and has a fondness for tattoos, high heels and cupcakes. In addition, she is a tech junkie that can be found most mornings and early afternoons on her tablet talking to folks on Facebook and Twitter about books, current events and music.Her debut novel, ‘The Crescent’ was a 2010 Reader’s Favorite Award Winner. Her third novel, ‘Breaking Lauren’ was a Texas Book Association Finalist in 2013. Her collaboration novel ‘303 Red Dead Lane’ was a finalist in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Awards.

‘Life is about the journey…’


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