Contemporary · Romance

#famous by Jilly Gagnon

I have to admit, I’m a complete sucker for so many things that are now YA tropes – which is precisely why I can’t seem to stop reading YA books. One of the tropes I like? Teens dealing with fame, especially insta-fame. And I do like happy cute romances as much as I like my angsty issue books. So, #famous got me from the moment I saw the title and cover.

Inspired by the story of “Alex from Target” – which I had to google because I’ve never heard of him until now – #famous is about a smart, funny, but terribly insecure (and rather unpopular) girl named Rachel, who has a crush of a popular kid named Kyle. Kyle isn’t as funny or as interesting as Rachel (and he knows it), but he is extremely cute. When Rachel “flits” (this book’s version of twitter) a photo of Kyle to her best friend with a particularly embarrassing hashtag, the only result she expects is for her friend to cheer up. She didn’t expect her flit to be reflitted… nearly half a million times over.

Overnight, Kyle is more famous than he ever thought he could be. He’s gaining lots of followers and local news coverage, and he’s even invited to a talk show. Meanwhile, Rachel is getting the opposite treatment – she’s harassed online for daring to express a crush on someone who is supposedly way beyond her league. But of course, Kyle recognises and appreciates her humour, and starts talking to her… which turns into something they never expected.

In a way, #famous is very much a stereotypical YA contemporary romance. The mean girls are mean, the popular guys are clueless at best, and Rachel’s insecurity and self-doubt cross that thin line from sympathetic to annoying more than a few times. However! Rachel really is very funny, and I enjoyed reading her sections in the book, as well as her texts in conversations with Kyle. I kept waiting for that moment when she realises how truly awesome she is, and was a bit disappointed (because she deserves to know this) and relieved (because it’s too simplistic and even sexist to have her realise this over a guy’s attention) when she didn’t. This book includes a lot of online harassment and bullying without digging deeper into it, too. Ultimately, this is just a very cute, rather likable love story. If it’s a 90s teen movie (let’s forget the fact that twitter didn’t exist then!) it would be one of those made for TV or direct to video types with Rachael Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr., that turns out to be a lot more rewatchable that one would expect and ends up in fans’ top ten teen movies lists. That is to say, despite the lack in depth, it would have been the kind of movie my late sister and I would quote to each other long into adulthood, and name blogs after, and read fanfiction about.

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