Summary from Amazon:
Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard’s goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster’s mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants-and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.
I consider myself a bit of a Joan Bauer expert. When I was in library school, in my YA lit class, I had to choose a teen literature writer, read 5 of their books, and then write a paper about the author and books. I chose Joan Bauer. I’ve read quite a few of her books, and I’ve liked almost all of them. I saw Close to Famous at the Penguin Putnam Warehouse sale back in November 2012, and I picked it up straight away. I was actually quite surprised, though, based on my knowledge of Joan Bauer’s books, and the cover of this one, that Close to Famous actually featured a 6th grader as the main character. I didn’t realize it was a middle-grade book. But even with my surprise, I still really enjoyed it.
In Close to Famous we follow Foster, a recent sixth-grade graduate, and her mother, who made a quick move from Memphis to West Virginia. Foster has aspirations to have her own cooking show, and she is quite the baker. I just loved Foster. She has some tough stuff she’s dealing with, but for a twelve-year-old girl, she does really well.
I absolutely loved Foster’s determination to have a cooking show. I mean, she’s only twelve years old, but she takes the initiative to bring her cupcakes and muffins to the small restaurant. She really is quite direct to people, even to adults. I really admire Foster.
Along with Foster, there are so many other amazing characters in Close to Famous. Of course there’s Charleena, a famous movie star, who’s come back to her hometown. Foster’s friend Macon, an aspiring documentary film-maker, is adorable. Lester and Kitty, who lend a hand to Foster’s mother and Foster. The town they move to has that small town charm that I love so much.
Something that I really love about Joan Bauer, is her ability to write about difficult issues (poverty, being a single parent, the death of a parent, educational struggles) without the novel ever feeling too heavy. She certainly does that with Close the Famous. She writes about some serious issues, but the story never feels too heavy. It’s really perfect for a middle-grade book.
If you’ve never read anything by Joan Bauer, I recommend that you do. My favorites are Hope Was Here, Best Foot Forward, and, now, Close the Famous. They’re sweet, quick reads, with just the right amount of seriousness, and humor.