Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

12-year-old Foster and her mother are leaving a bad situation and end up in the small town of Culpepper, West Virginia. They think it's just a temporary stop in their journey, but they end up staying there, little by little carving out a space for themselves among the quirky and colorful residents of the town.

I'm not sure why I haven't read everything Joan Bauer has written yet, because every time I read one of her books it knocks my socks off.  What I love about this one is that it deals with some very specific, hard-hitting issues, such as abusive relationships and learning disabilities - but not in a Problem Novel, message-y sort of way. Yes, there are serious issues that Foster is dealing with, but they are part and parcel of the story, and they never take precedence or become Lessons for the Reader. The book is about Foster, and she is such a delightful character with her passion for cooking, her strength and resilience, and her vulnerability. I wanted to reach into that book and give that girl a hug as I read, and she often made me laugh out loud.

It's a sweet and funny book, and I think it would appeal to fans of Sharon Creech and Susan Patron. Bauer doesn't shy from unpleasant truths, but she doesn't overplay them either. It's all about Foster, and her story is a riveting one. This is a great summer read, sure to inspire readers to grab a bowl and an oven mitt and pull out the cupcake tins. You might not want to read this one on an empty stomach!

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer (Penguin Group US - ebook edition, 2011)

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