Book Review: #Famous by Jilly Gagnon

#Famous cover from GoodreadsWhen my middle school daughter inadvertently left her library book #Famous on our kitchen table last week, she didn’t realize I would consume it with such fervor. (Not sure why she risks this. Maybe she will learn?)

The more YA (young adult) novels I read, the more I remember how much I love YA. These books contain sweet, tender, caring, struggling characters and don’t try to play down overwhelming, intense emotions. Plus, they are delightful to read in a short amount of time, frequently have a pleasant wrap-up, and I often come away feeling like I’ve made new friends.

Brief summary from Goodreads:

In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

When Rachel posts a photo of handsome yet unwitting Kyle in his Burger Barn uniform on an Instagram-style photo social media app, the photo and hashtag go viral, thrusting first him then her into the national spotlight via an Ellen-style talk show. While this is certainly possible–we never know what will go viral, after all–I thought this exact photo and hashtag fell a little thin of what I personally thought might go viral. (Multiple notes: First, nothing I have ever done has yet “gone viral,” so perhaps I’m not a great judge of this? Second, the briefest of research revealed in 2014, “Alex from Target” went viral, proving my above hypothesis that I do NOT indeed know what goes viral.) This story is a fictionalized version that takes off from the photo through stardom and gets its own twist. I personally don’t remember Alex from Target since I wasn’t on Twitter in 2014 (or watching news?), so this was a new story to me.

Rachel, the girl who takes the picture noted above, is a quiet, artsy girl with a tangle of wild hair and dresses a bit off. She doesn’t quite fit in with the popular crowd, has essentially one close friend, and tries to fly below the radar in general, but especially at school. The love interest is Kyle, an amazingly handsome and popular lacrosse player who should be a cocky and sure-of-himself jerk, but isn’t! (That was a relief.) Instead, he feels inadequate, struggling in the shadow of his successful older brothers, nearly overwhelmed by modesty. He is down to earth, and I couldn’t help but like him. Both of them. Nervous on the outside, they each deem the other behaves confidently and comfortably. I liked that element. Just when it seemed they were seeing eye-to-eye and letting their guard down, Kyle’s on-again-off-again catty girlfriend stepped in to stir the pot with well-placed manipulation, preying on their insecurities. I appreciated that each main character had a straight-talking yet supportive, down-to-earth friend who helped the main characters find their way to each other.

The story was a fun romp. I’m a sucker for kind-hearted teen souls finding each other for a good old Happy For Now (HFN). The animated cover was very appealing, the dialogue snappy and witty, I liked the alternating points of view (which sometimes I hate), and creative details about the different families. I would have liked to increase the pace of the middle a smidge, and I wouldn’t have minded a little more about the relationship and breakup between Rachel and her former friend, Jessie. Even still, this was a wholly entertaining read that I’d recommend for tweens, young teens, and anyone who loves to read YA.

Happy reading!

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