Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on January 15, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.
The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.
What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Emma Mills has quickly become one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. She excels at writing dialogue and at creating characters who truly feel like real teenagers. I went into Famous in a Small Town fully ready to fall in love again, but unfortunately, this one slightly missed the mark for me.
For the first 100 pages or so, this was shaping up to be a five-star book. I mean, it has all of the things I love: small town coziness, friendship feels, witty dialogue, marching band, and country stars! However, while I love all of these pieces on their own, I don’t feel that Mills was able to pull all of these disparate elements together in a cohesive way.
As always, I loved the characters in this story. Sophie, in particular, was such a wonderful MC. Her group of friends was a lovable crowd of band nerds who felt a lot like my group of friends in high school, which was fun. The friendships in Mills’s books always deliver, and Famous was no exception on that front. I did like August, Sophie’s love interest, overall, though I felt like he acted like a jerk on multiple occasions. His behavior felt like teenage mistakes, though, as opposed to actual being-a-jerk (does that even make sense???). In fact, all of the friends make mistakes and hurt each other, but they always learn from and apologize for the hurt they cause. The romance was a sweet friends-to-lovers pairing.
The dialogue, too, was a highlight of Famous (as it is with most of Mills’s books!). All of her trademark snark and wit are present. I found myself laughing out loud every few pages because of a line or a comeback that completely took me by surprise.
A large issue I had with this stems from the pacing, I think. After reading the first third, I started to get a little worried, because it… didn’t feel like anything was happening? And, don’t get me wrong, I love a good slice-of-life contemporary, but Famous wasn’t exactly that, either. It almost felt like there were too many competing plot points happening at once, and because of this, Mills didn’t have the time to give any of them the development they needed. For example, the Meagan Pleasant plotline– which to me, was one of the main draws of this book. However, it’s hardly mentioned after the first 100 pages, and it almost felt as though Mills forgot about it until the end and was forced to hastily pull together an ending in the last few pages.
My main issue, though, has to do with a “plot twist” that’s thrown in toward the last third of the book. It felt really cheap, not to mention unnecessary to the story or the characters. Honestly, it threw me so much that it truly dampened my enjoyment of the remainder of the book. I simply do not understand why this was included in the book at all, if I’m being honest.
Overall, though I’ll continue to pick up whatever Emma Mills writes in the future, Famous in a Small Town missed the mark for me.
Have you read Famous in a Small Town? If so, let’s discuss! If not, do you plan to read it?