Friday, September 9, 2011

High School Pick: Famous

by Todd Strasser
Simon & Schuster
259 pages

Timely, poignant, brutally honest and rife with in-your-face social commentary about America's need for celebrity gossip, Famous will resonate with teen readers.

Jamie Gordon always wanted to take pictures; she is really good with her camera and her boyfriend Nasim thinks she is truly talented. In a chance encounter, Jamie just happens to be at the right place at the right time with her camera ready. She gets candid shots of a famous super-model slapping her son in a coffee shop and sells them to a tabloid for more money than most teens will ever see--"just for taking some pictures."

When the chance of a lifetime occurs, Jamie finds herself in L.A. shadowing America's hottest Hollywood sweetheart Willow Twine--who has been in a bit of trouble lately. Willow is dating a rock star of questionable background and morals, she's been in trouble with the law, and now movie studios are seeing her as more of a financial risk than box office gold (sound familiar?) When Jamie discovers some shots in her camera that she didn't take--photos that will ruin Willow's career but make Jamie famous--she is torn. Does she ruin a teen dream or take the money and run?

Avy is Jamie's friend in New York. He has dreams of becoming a super-hot mega star model/actor in Hollywood. He sells everything he owns and gets a cheap apartment in L.A. Avy soon finds out that shedding a few pounds is not the answer to fame in a town known for devouring thousands of young hopefuls each year. Avy makes crucial mistakes and falls in with the wrong crowd scene. Readers will like Avy--his naivete, his vulnerability, and his ulitmate defeat will have readers' empathy.

Strasser has captured the illusory celebrity lifestyle and pampered existence of young Hollywood. The novel's ominous tone is apparent from the opening pages and savvy readers will guess what will happen to Jamie, Willow, and Avy, but they may just be surprised!

Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up. Typical Hollywood behavior that you might read about in tabloids: drug use, partying, underage drinking, sex.

FTC Required disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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