Jilly Gagnon’s debut novel, #FAMOUS, not only left me laughing out loud and swooning at the same time, but weirdly had me craving French fries throughout the entirety of the novel. I know, kind of random, but let me elaborate: Rachel Ettinger is your typical high school student with a life that is anything but extraordinary. That is, until she takes a picture of Kyle Bonham, her long-time crush, while he is working at a burger place (hence the endless French fry references) and posts it on her Flit account, not knowing that in less than a few hours it would go viral. Before Rachel and Kyle know it, they are both thrust into the spotlight changing not only their lives, but the way their hearts view each other.
"#FAMOUS wowed me. Going into it I thought that the novel was your typical contemporary girl crush love story, but it came out as a novel of self-discovery with an exciting dash of fame."
#FAMOUS was pretty much an embellished retelling of the “Alex from Target” story in which Alex is Kyle, Twitter is called Flit, and Ellen is Laura. A major addition was the romance factor which made the storyline a billion times more intriguing and had me rooting for the 'ship (aka Rachel and Kyle) to sail since the beginning. The interesting part of the story, though, was that we not only got the perspective of the person who became famous, but also the person who took the picture. I thought that both perspectives were super entertaining and kept me compelled to read more.
Above all, I extremely enjoyed Rachel’s character. Although at some points I did want to give her a slap to the head for always negatively comparing herself to other characters, I found that she was the most relatable. She had her insecurities and was shy, but once she opened up to someone her personality shined through. She’s quick to give a comeback --- whether it be in her head or aloud --- and made jokes that I wish I could come up with on the spot. Those factors made it interesting when I had to switch from her perspective to Kyle’s since he is pretty much the complete opposite of her, personality wise. Speaking of Kyle, I thought that he was a fun character to read from as well! He’s confident and at the same time cares so much for his friends. He definitely did a few things that made me want to give him a slap on the head as well, but that was just your typical guy-being-clueless sort of thing.
One thing that I wish the book had more of was girl power. The book pretty much displays women as the stereotypical high school mean girls which made sense at some parts, but was actually kind of sad in the long run. Rachel went through some awful bullying after the Flit post and it was crazy to see that no one really stood up for her, even her best friend. However, I think that because of the weak support system she had, the events in the novel left her a stronger and more independent women.
I have to say that, in the end, #FAMOUS wowed me. Going into it I thought that the novel was your typical contemporary girl crush love story, but it came out as a novel of self-discovery with an exciting dash of fame. I recommend this book to anyone who is a big follower of social media because, really, this book was all about how the online world can affect someone’s life. I think that Gagnon did an amazing job with the storyline and I am definitely anticipating any of her work in the future.
Reviewed by Taylor F., Teen Board Member. on March 15, 2017