Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
When Sophie’s much-beloved Acadia High School marching band is chosen to march in the Rose Parade, she is ecstatic, but overwhelmed. It’s her job to find the funding in her small town to send the band all the way to the Rose Parade, and the town has already given so much. But Sophie’s not too worried. Between her and her four best friends, she’s sure they’ll come up with an idea. Finally, she does. They’re going to get country music superstar Morgan Pleasant, the one famous person from their tiny town, to come do a benefit concert! There’s just one snag – Morgan has very publicly sworn never to return to Acadia. Sophie is certain that she, her four best friends, and her new (maybe) best friend August will find a way to get her back to do the concert and raise the money they need.
Emma Mills is a masterful storyteller. What seems at first like a light, happy-go-lucky story about a high school fundraiser is wrought with deeper themes that leave the reader thinking about the characters long after the last page is turned. The story guides the reader through a full gamut of emotions – joy, sadness, surprise, warmth, and many more. Sophie & August’s parallel storylines of joy, grief, and trying to move on from their pasts are authentic and moving. The secondary characters are also well written, and though it sometimes feels like there might be too many to keep track of, Mills does a great job of fleshing out their backstories to make them relatable. Famous in a Small Town perfectly balances the excitement of a new romance with tried and true friendship, which isn’t always present in books of this genre. This book isn’t just thought-provoking, it’s also laughter-inducing with perfectly timed moments of levity. A word of caution - explicit language, general drug/alcohol use, and sexual references are present in Famous in a Small Town, making this book best suited for high school audiences.
*Contains severe language, moderate sexual content, and moderate substance abuse