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Famous in a Small Town

Review

Famous in a Small Town

From fan favorite contemporary young adult fiction author Emma Mills comes FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN, another sweetly told narrative about the interactions in friendships and relationships. Enthusiasts of her previous works, including FIRST & THEN, THIS ADVENTURE ENDS and FOOLISH HEARTS, will be sure to enjoy this novel as well, and its refreshing take on young adult realistic fiction.

Sophie, the protagonist, is a teenage girl with a close-knit friend group living in a small town, as is alluded to in the title. Sophie and her four best friends have become as close as family, due to their long friendships and small town setting. The book picks up almost immediately from when a new guy, August, moves in next door to Sophie. He has a quiet demeanor and tends to not let anyone get too close to him, yet over time he becomes a part of Sophie’s small social circle.

"Taking an intimate look at the benefits of having a few close friends...FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN is the friendship driven novel that contemporary young adult fiction tends to lack."

Overall, this book both met my expectations and didn’t at the same time. It had a light-hearted, almost predictable contemporary feel, yet also had some major plot twists that were worked into the plot quite cleverly. Some great aspects of the book included the realistic friendships in the novel. While the romance in the book played a role, most of the narrative tended to focus on the intricacy and on-goings of the friendships between Sophie and the others. Their interactions and casual dialogue truly highlighted what it means to have best friends in the best way, and gave the characters dimension. There was also quite a bit of dry wit and sarcastic humor worked into these conversations and the novel in general, which had me laughing often and definitely added to the experience of reading this book.

While I won’t go into details, there were also a few major plot twists in this book that I didn’t expect or automatically predict. In many contemporary novels, major changes in plot directions seem to be avoided, leading to a very linear plot line that feels familiar and similar to many other in the genre. However, this book pulled off a couple that worked into the plot well, although they weren’t seamlessly perfect. They felt a little bit disconnected and a little startling when I realized what had happened, in a way that was almost confusing. Nevertheless, these plot twists definitely helped the novel pique my interest when it just started to feel a little mundane.

As mentioned before, the romance in the novel --- between Sophie and August --- wasn’t fleshed out very well and felt too shallow to hold much weight to me. It was one of the predictable plot points to me, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, both Sophie and August’s emotions regarding each other felt a bit off and didn’t hold the same weight that their interactions with friends held. Despite this, I believe that the author was focusing more on friendship for this novel, so a failed romantic storyline doesn’t take away from the overall story too much at all. The strong friendships more than make up for a weak romance, and the friendships and completely in the spotlight as well.

This novel is perfect for any fan of contemporary fiction who wants to read a fun story about what it means to have close friendships as a teenager. It is a quick, light read that is great when you need a change from darker, denser fantasy novels or when you want more books that have realistically designed characters. Taking an intimate look at the benefits of having a few close friends than having many acquaintances, FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN is the friendship driven novel that contemporary young adult fiction tends to lack.

Reviewed by Neha S., Teen Board Member on January 16, 2019

Famous in a Small Town
by Emma Mills