Plot of Star Island by Carl Hiassen
This novel centers on the career (if that’s the word) of Cherry Pie, a teenager with a pair of horrible parents who groom her to be a star from an early age, a drug habit, budding alcoholism, and no discernible talent. But she is beautiful and neither her parents nor she minds sexploitation. But she has spiraled so out of control that her career is headed for the tank.
To avoid this, her parents hire publicists and bodyguards. They consult with managers. They attempt (totally unsuccessfully) to supervise their daughter. But they fail signally to offer her any affection or love.
But, as with many Carl Hiassen books, the plot is just a device on which to hang characters and satire of South Florida. So, on to ….
Characters in Star Island by Carl Hiassen
The heroine is the aforementioned Cherry Pie, nee Cheryl Butterman. She’s got no talent, just looks, but she doesn’t know that. It’s all she can do to lip-sync the vacuous lyrics of hits that are written by others, with music played by others, and vocals sung by others.
Her mother insists that she is a star. It’s also her mother who chose the stage-name Cherry Pie for her daughter. Hiassen does a brilliant job of satirizing the worst of stage parents. The mother here insists that of Cherry’s near-overdoses are the result of gastritis, and refers to the drug rehabilitation facility as dietary camp. She caters to her daughter’s every desire, with results that are predictable, but also hysterical. Cherry’s father is mostly ineffectual. Both the father and the mother are having affairs with other people.
The publicity expert Lark sisters are a source of more amusement. They specialize in handling the careers of celebrities who are out of control. They are twins, born fraternal, but made identical through plastic surgery that has left them with identically immobile faces.
Another group of characters are the paparazzi who follow the stars around, hoping to get photos of them doing stupid, illegal or immoral things. Hiassen has little sympathy for these people, portraying them as lowlifes who are incompetent to do almost anything else; nonetheless, he does show them having certain talents.
There’s a bodyguard named Chemo (a scary dude), the former governor of Florida (now living in the swamps and known as skink) makes another appearance, attacking polluters and corrupt politicians. There are several policemen, most of whom are decent, and several politicians, none of whom are.
The setting of Star Island by Carl Hiassen
Like Hiassen’s earlier books, Star Island is set in south Florida, a region of the country that Hiassen knows and loves. He has obvious environmentalist sympathies, and seems to want this land returned to a more natural state, perhaps, like Skink, he’d like to see all the people leave. More particularly, Star Island is set on Star Island, so named because many of the houses are or were supposedly owned by stars. But, in reality, most were not.