Cinderella sang "A dream is a wish your heart makes." That about sums up the mindset of the main characters in Close to Famous by Joan Bauer. They are all wishing and hoping for something.
When the novel begins, the main character, twelve year old Foster and her mom have been driven away from their home in Memphis to Culpepper, West Virginia by an abusive Elvis impersonator, Huck. Foster's dad died in Iraq, and the only reminders she has of her dad are kept in a pillowcase that she forgot back in Memphis. Her mom reminds her that her dad is always in her heart, and that it is not worth seeing Huck again just to retrieve these tangible memories.
Foster is an excellent baker, and she absolutely loves watching The Food Network, expecially Sonny Kroll, her idol. Her cupcakes and muffin recipes are combinations of ingedients even Martha Stewart has never imagined in her wildest dreams. However, superior baker Foster has one big problem. She can't read. In sixth grade a student named Johnny Joe Badger called her the stupidest girl in the class, and sadly the teacher agreed. Wow, abuse really does come in all forms. However, Foster never lets her disability get her down. She makes up for her reading disability by memorizing all of the cupcake and muffin recipes she sees on the Food Network.
Foster's mom is a backup singer, and she also has dreams. She wants to sing solo, but first she needs to boost her self esteem and of course stay away from Huck.
Then there is my favorite character, Charleena, a washed up Hollywood star. She has had fame and all of its trappings, and she has chosen to retreat to small town life: she hasn't made a movie in years. She craves the ordinary and the everyday. When she inadvertently finds out that Foster can't read, she is the one who encourages her to keep trying and not lose hope.
This novel is often poignant, often funny, and often makes you want to take a trip to the bakery! At the end of the book, cupcakes even save the day. I enjoyed this book for its themes of hope in times of adversity and striving for your dream no matter what obstacles are in the way.
After reading this wonderful book, my next step was to recommend it to my teen group, and one teen Sarah did check it out. Two of the teens even wrote about their hopes and dreams. In addition, I printed out copies of Foster's and Sonny's cupcake recipes from Joan Bauer's website for the teens and my colleagues! I might even try to make them myself.
My Dream by Karrell
My dream for my high school years is to get into one of the prep boarding schools. One of the boarding schools I want to attend is Lawrenceville. It is a prestigious high school in Princeton, New Jersey that will help me in the future. Go for it, Karrell!
My Dreams by Sarah
They seem mystical
but rather strange.
Sometimes they're foggy, not really clear.
Sometimes I'm rich.
Sometimes I'm poor.
But I always wonder
What's behind that mysterious door.
I have nice dreams also. That's only sometimes.
Most of the time they are blank.
But it is important to seperate and not confuse
your dreams with reality.
They can bite you in the behind, but
no matter what happens,
have your head held high and move forward.
The future awaits you.
Sarah, dream your little dream, and keep your head held high!