The child star that was left behind is about to get her moment to shine in this swoony romantic comedy inspired by a unique, beloved facet of pop culture history: The Mickey Mouse Club.Holly Danner has a complicated relationship with fame. It’s not easy being the only cast member of a 1990s song-and-dance show who didn’t become famous. When she was eleven, she used to do anything for a laugh (or at least a laugh-track) on “Diego and the Lion’s Den.” If she talked about it–which she almost never does–Holly might explain how her childhood best friends came to dominate the worlds of pop music, film, and TV while she was relegated to a few near-misses and a nanny gig for her niece. She’d even be telling the truth about making peace with the whole thing years ago.
But when she finds out there’s a 25th anniversary for the show planned–a televised reunion, clip show, and panel–and she wasn’t invited, it’s time for an impromptu road trip to crash the event and set the record straight. Three problems: she’s currently in Internet Rehab (perhaps she’s not quite as well-adjusted as she believes…), she has no cash, and the only person who can get her across the country in time is Thom Parker, a handsome, infuriatingly level-headed patient who doesn’t think she should confront her famous ex-friends.
FAME ADJACENT is a contemporary, realistic, and humorous look at love, friendship, and fame, as seen through the eyes of a girl who lived it–from the sidelines.
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Characters: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Plot: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Themes: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I appreciate the fact that addiction and rehab are at the forefront of the story, Holly’s treatment seems inconsequential to the story and, therefore, feels like a surface-level attempt at normalizing mental health care. This could have been a lot more impactful, but was instead a side bar.
The aspect of Holly’s social media obsession brought a very interesting quality to the plot. The comparison game that so many of us play is pertinent (and detrimental) to our mental health. The obsession of having an Instagram-worthy life is a new social norm and, unfortunately, the side effects of this social competition leads too many people to feel less than, unworthy, and unfulfilled in life.
There were a few things that made me cringe in the book: Specifically, the relationship between Holly and Thom. Holly tries to initiate a [physical] relationship multiple times and he tells her no. However, she’s “persistent” and they end up dating or whatever. I don’t like the idea that persistence [read: harassment] can cause someone to eventually want to be with you. That’s pretty toxic behavior and shouldn’t be perpetuated. Also, there was a part about the Penguin band – named as such because one member is black and the other is white. This rubbed me the wrong way, because it was completely inconsequential and seemed as if it was added to appear to be woke in some way. Bizarre. Lastly, Holly makes a comment about Thom being trapped because he has to take care of his child, who suffers from daily night terrors. This just perpetuates the idea that those with mental issues or disabilities are a hindrance to others and that it just a fallacy and pretty gross.
The novel can be seen of a critique of this societal shift to praising the superficial. However, it does so in a light way: This was a fun and easy read.
Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.