Miss Bubbles Steals the Show
by Melanie Murray
(Red Dress Ink, $12.95, PG) ISBN 0-373-89527-5
When I read the back cover and saw that Miss Bubbles Steals the Show is about a struggling actor whose cat embarks on an acting career, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I discovered that this book is a compelling story more about the cat’s owner than the cat. In fact, it’s heroine Stella who steals the show.

After breaking up with her lover, Stella Monroe refocuses on her acting career. It’s tough going. She’s disappointed at audition after audition. To make matters worse, she’s starting to feel like the odd one out. Her friends’ lives are changing — her roommate’s acting career is advancing quickly, and her best friend is getting married. While Stella is happy for them, she also feels left behind.

A new opportunity develops when Stella’s cat, Miss Bubbles, is hired to perform in an off-Broadway play. Stella thinks this may be an opportunity for her to get her foot in the door, and she starts dating an actor in the play.

Your enjoyment of Miss Bubbles Steals the Show is likely to depend on what you think of Stella. Some readers will have issues with her. She had an affair with a married man before the book started. She drinks too much, which often results in her sleeping with men she barely knows. She’s self absorbed. This makes some parts of the book difficult to read; it’s hard to watch her self-destructive behavior.

Nevertheless, I got caught up in Stella’s story. I didn’t like everything Stella did, but I liked her voice (the story is told in first-person) and found her to be a multidimensional character. Murray brings Stella to life with good traits, bad traits, and personality quirks. I didn’t always like or relate to Stella, but I cared enough about her to be fascinated by her journey.

The other characters in the story were equally interesting. Steve is Stella’s roommate, and he’s up for a role in All My Children. Stella’s friend Michaela is getting married in part to keep her boyfriend from being deported. Stella’s mother calls frequently to find out how Stella’s acting career is progressing. Acting was her mom’s dream before she became pregnant with Stella. Stella dates an actor named Jasper, whom she thinks may be able to help her career. Christian is Stella’s irritating but kindhearted neighbor. Each person plays an important part in her life, and none of them seem like stereotypes.

The story isn’t perfect. First, Stella makes several realizations all at once, and they happen quickly. Careful readers will see where her journey is going, but it would have been nice if her realizations had been spread out just a little. Second, it seemed out of character for Stella’s mom to accept her decision so quickly.

Despite these issues, Miss Bubbles Steals the Show offers readers an enjoyable read.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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