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Claim to Fame

Review

Claim to Fame

In her numerous books for young people, Margaret Peterson Haddix has excelled in creating vivid characters enmeshed in unusual --- and often surprising --- situations. With CLAIM TO FAME, her latest novel, Haddix continues to surprise. The first hundred pages alone ask readers to shift directions a half-dozen times --- shifts that they will be more than happy to make as they try to figure out the mystery behind the protagonist’s odd behavior and bizarre thoughts.

In a small college town in Illinois, Lindsay Scott lives an extremely sheltered life. She does her schoolwork online, has no friends, and is cut off from television, her neighbors and most of the outside world --- which is exactly how she wants it. More than anything, she hopes that the public will just forget about her and her past career as the precocious child star of a popular television show called “Just Me and the Kids.” She knows that millions of people remember her “claim to fame,” since the program lives on in reruns even years after its cancellation. But she realizes just how vivid she still is to some fans when two boys kidnap her from her own home after reading a tabloid article about her extreme isolation. They blame her controling father for keeping her shut away from the world and are convinced that she needs to be rescued from him --- and that they are the perfect heroes to do just that.

Unfortunately, Lindsay doesn’t want to be saved, and the boys (not to mention the tabloids) have missed one crucial piece of information about her dad. She is also hiding a secret that no one knows --- a secret that keeps her bound to her house and hidden away by choice, wondering all the while if she is losing her mind. The near-disastrous kidnapping plot, however, sets events in motion that might force her not only to leave her house and connect with other people but also to confront the mysteries in her own past.

CLAIM TO FAME sets up a fascinating, complex mythology with ties to transcendental philosophy and literature, utopian societies, and the modern culture of fame. It also connects these issues in a very specific way to young readers’ own lives, to the universal process of being a teenager --- and of growing out of it. Readers will stay on their toes, not only because of the perpetually shifting quality of the narrative, but also because they will be fascinated by Lindsay’s predicament and curious as to how --- or if --- she will escape from her self-imposed “prison.”

The novel does wrap up rather abruptly, which might disappoint some readers who will want to remain enmeshed in Haddix’s thought-provoking mythology just a bit longer. But Haddix gives readers much to consider --- about Lindsay’s unique talent or curse, and about their own lives and relationships with others.

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Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 18, 2011

Claim to Fame
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • Publication Date: November 10, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416939172
  • ISBN-13: 9781416939177