- #famous by Jilly Gagnon
- YA Contemporary, High-School Fiction, Romance
- My Rating:
Told from alternating points of view, #famous tells the story of insecure but actually hilarious Rachel who has a crush on her handsome (and kind) classmate, Kyle who works at a burger joint at the mall. As a joke, she takes a photo of him, posts it online with the hashtag #idlikefrieswithTHAT. Kyle immediately becomes an internet sensation and the pair end up with more attention than they could imagine.
Apparently, this story was inspired by the Alex from Target story, in which a random but adorable Target worker was also made into an Internet sensation when someone posted a photo of him online.
Right from the beginning, I knew I’d like this story because the writing is just hilarious. Rachel is what we apparently consider “average” – the artsy type who is so insecure about herself and thinks she’s weird af, but to others she’s actually pretty cool (at least Kyle thinks so). Her parents aren’t exactly strict, but they are pretty invested in knowing everything about their kids’ lives – dinner time is family time and Rachel and her brother are expected to share with the family at least one thing they learned that day among some other random things kids don’t usually care about.
Unfortunately, Rachel falls victim to the annoying contemporary YA trope which implies that her best friend is supposed to be kind of a jerk. Monique is a pretty cool girl, don’t get me wrong. She knows what she wants and will do whatever it takes to get it. But even if it’s at the expense of her best friend, I feel like she manipulates the situation to meet to her wishes. (I’ll get to more of this in a bit.)
Kyle is your typical, “cute but doesn’t know it” guy who is kind of in a relationship with his (ex)girlfriend, Emma who apparently sees and gets him. While I totally get that she has her own problems with her parents being divorced, she is definitely manipulative and will do anything to keep Kyle from letting her go completely. This generally works to her advantage since Kyle is almost too nice which is both frustrating and adorable.
I started to doubt this book when soon after Kyle becomes internet-famous for no reason, Rachel is shamed and humiliated by online strangers for having a crush on someone they think is out of her league. Her ex-friend Jessie gives the haters more ammunition when she posts embarrassing photos of Rachel from middle school.
Cyberbullying is a real problem and while I don’t mind that it was depicted in the book, I didn’t appreciate that some of the characters either breezed over it or were completely ignorant of it. Monique, a person of color, knows what it’s like to be criticized for something you just are and while she tries to mean well, she also tries to get Rachel to use her “fame” to get into some play-writing program or something but I can’t seem to remember exactly what it was because of my frustration with her LOL. Nearly no one stands up for Rachel and what she’s going through, and over time the cyberbullying is deemed just a “phase” which is somewhat realistic but doesn’t exactly send out a positive message to readers.
Luckily, the story does make a turn for the better and I came to love Rachel more and Kyle just a little less. While Kyle is definitely sweet and adorable, he is totally blind – to Emma’s intentions, Rachel’s victimization by others, and even to his sudden fame. I do like that the attention doesn’t totally get to his head. Not entirely sure these two were made for each other, but they ended up being pretty cute together.
Verdict: I do recommend this if you’re into light-hearted contemporary high-school romances. I think the cyberbullying does get a little heavy because people say some pretty nasty things when they’re able to hide behind a computer screen, but the rest of it is pretty darn adorable!