Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Relatively Famous by Jessica Park


Relatively Famous, by Jessica Park, is a great read that both middle grade readers and young adult readers will enjoy immensely. When we begin, Dani, a normal fifteen year old, is living with her mom and her mom's professional chef BF, Alan, in Little Springs, Michigan. Everything is going pretty well for her down to earth family of three, with Alan and her mom Leila's five year anniversary, and a summer of fun with her best friend  Sam. Despite a bit of rockiness in the facts that Alan doesn't propose to Leila and Sam's family is undergoing financial instability, Dani is content. But when she finds out through a mob of tabloids at school that her father is the famous/infamous action star, Mark Ocean--who is claiming that he doesn't have a daughter--her world in Little Springs is rocked like a hurricane hit. I was impressed at this point already, because Jessica managed to take a somewhat overdone theme and turn it into a surprisingly cute story. Dani travels to sunny old CA to stay with Mark for the summer, having no idea who leaked the story to the paparazzi and no idea what to expect with dad. At first, it's comical to read about all of the spray tans and hair extensions, but Dani is a nice character because she manages to stay grounded--mostly--while at the same time adapting to the lifestyle of her new Cali friends, even managing to ground her orange move star dad a bit while she's at it. The transformation is predominantly on the exterior for Dani, but it's really nice to see Dani's dad change so much on the inside. He learns to love in more ways than one, and he develops a fatherly connection with Dani that is special to read about. Any young adult or middle grade reader would appreciate the simplicity of Jessica's writing that has an underlying depth in the relationships that are obvious, like Dani and Mark's, and not so obvious, like Dani and Nathan, one of her new friend's seemingly nerdy brothers. It's not obvious because of the lifeguard hottie who has a thing, if you can call it that, with Dani, so don't worry--there is no lack of romance in Relatively Famous. The thing that I thought was really great about this read was the balance that it was home to--between grounded and flashy, Dani's old life and new, her back-home friends and her Cali friends, her love interests, and even between her mom's boyfriend and her shiny new dad. I give this book a 7/10, and I really recommend it, especially for younger readers.


Relatively Famous delivers Hollywood with heart... High school freshman Dani McKinley's world is rocked when she finds out that she is the daughter of B-list actor and notorious womanizer Mark Ocean. Mark is all too eager to get his acting career back on track, so he follows his agent's advice about cleaning up his image and invites his "new" daughter to spend the summer with him. Armed with credit cards, club memberships, and a new wardrobe, Dani spends the summer navigating the foreign culture of Hollywood. Her new friends school Dani in everything from attaching hair extensions to managing the paparazzi. She meets Jason, a gorgeous young personal trainer who is easy on the eyes and wildly flirtatious . . . But is this smug hottie the one for Dani? Or will she ignore her friends' eye rolling and go for Nate, the goofy but sweet surfer? Even tougher than all the new social pressures, is the challenge of trying to deal with her father. What Mark Ocean has in wealth, he sorely lacks in parenting skills. The fatherly interest Mark feigns has everything to do with charming the public and virtually nothing to do with connecting with his daughter. Dani desperately tries to teach her father that being a dad is not just about supplying her with Prada bags and trips to movie premieres, and the result of the clueless actor's attempts at fatherhood is both funny and heart-wrenching. Follow Dani and Mark while they struggle to figure out what it means to be father and daughter, and as they navigate their own complicated love lives. Humor, tears, heartache, and teen angst will leave you aching to see how their dilemmas are resolved.

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