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Review: Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Title: Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
Year Published: 2011

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 250
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Challenges: YA Awards (Schneider Family Award)
Geography Connection (my Google Reading map): USA (West Virginia)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book and am donating it to my school library

Summary (from the back of the book): Foster McFee dreams of one day having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Her new friend Macon's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Her mother, Rayka, longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Here in the tiny town of Culpepper, it seems that everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous. Until some unexpected events shake up the town and its inhabitants--and show that sometimes the most important thing is having a big heart.

Review: If you are looking for a quick, easy, enjoyable read then this is the book for you. On the outside it is about Foster, a twelve year old girl who has just moved to West Virginia from Tennessee. She is new in town, trying to make friends and find her way in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else and she knows no one. However, this story is so much more.

The first person narrative makes the read enjoyable while real issues (abuse, illiteracy, and whom to trust) are dealt with. Foster must navigate her way through new friends, putting herself out there and taking risks, as well as standing up for herself and her mother. What I liked is that Bauer doesn't make Foster wiser than her years. She is a junior high kid with fears, issues, and junk that hold her back. She doesn't save the world, invent something beyond believable, or miraculously come back from almost dead. She just is. She deals with the stuff lots of us deal with on a daily basis and we like her throughout it all.

I wanted Foster to be successful, but not in a fake way. If by the end of the book she had her own TV show I would have been so bummed. Instead, she is still twelve and still hoping to be famous.... some day. But, along the way she has figured out that lots of people have stuff to work through and that a community can come together to help one another.

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