Better Off Famous?
A likable, flawed heroine helps set apart this fairly formulaic book about the trappings of fame. When narrator Annie Hoffman’s great-aunt invites her for a visit to New York City, the talented violinist from Alabama secretly auditions for Juilliard. Instead of an acceptance from the prestigious music school, though, Annie gets another offer: she literally runs into a television producer, who invites her to audition for a new teen show (the role just happens to be for a Southern good girl who plays the violin). As Annie is catapulted to stardom, she hangs out with celebrities, receives an amazing gown for free and, less pleasingly, is stalked by the media. Readers will relate to Annie, who is prone to saying and doing embarrassing things (at a shoot for Seventeen magazine, her mace goes off in her purse, sending the photographer fleeing). Eventually her worsening behavior, including drunkenly swearing at paparazzi, makes her the target of a politician “committed to improving teenage morality in America.” Mendle (Kissing in Technicolor ) convincingly builds Annie’s transformation from nice small-town girl to big-city wild child (after she blows off young fans in one of her first diva acts, she feels bad, saying to herself, “Maybe I could complete my transformation into Cruella DeVil by ingesting live newborn puppies”). There’s never any doubt about the path Mendle or her narrator will take, but the amusing narration and wishful premise will keep readers following along. Ages 13-up. (Nov.)
Release date: 10/01/2007