Title: Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
# of Pages: 250
Genre: Young Adult (Realistic Fiction)
Before last weekend, I couldn’t tell you the last time that I sat down and read a book from start to finish without stopping. But such was the case with Close to Famous–I hadn’t intended to sit down and read the whole thing in one go, but I just got sucked in and the print was so much larger than in Great Expectations that I just couldn’t help myself. Funny thing was, Matt did the exact same thing at the same time, except with Hatchet. And that was our date night on Friday.
I first discovered Joan Bauer off of a list of award-winning young adult novels; her book, Hope Was Here, won multiple awards, and for good reason. Her trademark (which I love) is that she chooses a strong protagonist (usually female) that is completely obsessed with something. In one book, it was waitressing, in another, it was selling shoes. And then she shows how the protagonist (though young) ends up making a big difference in the community with his/her passion. They’re fun reads. So when I found out that she had come out with a new novel (Close to Famous), I couldn’t resist, even though the book was intended for an even younger audience than what she usually writes to.
Close to Famous tells the story of Foster, a 12-year-old girl who is obsessed with baking and who has a significant reading disability. Her and her mom have just moved into a brand new town in the middle of nowhere to escape her mom’s abusive ex-boyfriend, an Elvis-impersonator who you hate from the beginning. The new town is not without problems of its own, however; businesses have been struggling since the new prison was built right next door and even the beloved community church is in danger of being sold and torn down to build a taco chain restaurant. Foster is determined to make the best of the situation though, and she begins to sell her baked goods to a store down the street and starts to work for a famous actress who has retired and escaped to the small town. Foster’s life starts to take turns she didn’t expect when she unexpectedly finds a reading tutor and when her beloved t.v. chef hero, Sonny, gets into a serious motorcycle accident. Through these and other happenings, Foster learns to plant her feet and stop running away from her problems, as well as to make the best of any situation.
Although written for a younger target audience, I enjoyed reading about Foster’s dream of becoming the first t.v. teen chef and how she would “practice” for her t.v. audience while baking in their small trailer home. The story was a bit more simplistic than I usually go for, but it felt like a nice slice of pie after the meat-and-potatoes of Great Expectations. I would recommend any of Bauer’s books if you’re looking to get inspired and get passionate to find your own niche in the world, whether it’s growing giant pumpkins or baking the finest cupcakes. (These books are also great for young readers, too, because they’re positive, relatable, and free of the junk that is so often found in much of today’s fiction).
My Rating: 4 out of 5