Title: Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: Family, Friendship, Loss
Age Level: Grade 5 and up
Summary (from Goodreads): Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants--and put their big ambitions to the test.
Review: Truth be told, I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. I thought that a young cupcake baker with ambitions to monopolize the Food Network spotlight was a novel idea. As a fellow cupcake baker and cooking show addict, I figured I would really enjoy spending some time with the character of Foster McFee. Unfortunately, Foster's town of Culpepper is chock full of literary cliches. There's Foster herself, whose list of issues would smother any main character: displaced from her home, suffering the loss of her father, worried about her mother's escape from an abusive relationship, trying to make friends in a new town, and....wait for it...she never learned to read. Joining Foster are the young boy with an inferiority complex (and big dreams of his own), the washed up movie star, the beautifully damaged mother, the villainous boyfriend of the mother, and many, many more. There's nothing inherently bad about this story, and it was not arduous reading by any means. It just wasn't all that compelling, either.