Fame, Glory and Other Things On My To Do List
I’d tried Janette Rallison once before; that book was light, romantic Young Adult fiction. So when browsing the YA section of my local library I saw her newest book, Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List, I snagged it. I was in the mood for something light and funny, and, fortunately, the book delivered.
Jessica is a rising star in the limited drama sphere of local Three Forks, New Mexico. Having played the lead in Our Town the previous year, she has her heart set on being Juliet this year. Unfortunately, her high school has little money for expensive productions, and it looks like there might not be a Romeo and Juliet. So when she meets Jordan Hunter, son of the famous actor, Christopher Hunter, she sees opportunities. Jordan is new in town and wants no one to know who his father is so he can just be a regular guy for once. But he also would like to see his parents get back together, and for that to happen, he has to lure his father, who he infrequently sees, to Three Forks.
Jessica sees at once that helping Jordan will also result in some important exposure of her acting talents to people who count. So she persuades him to try out for the school play. And when it looks like there won’t be a fall play, she “slips” and tells her drama teacher Jordan’s real identity. Before long, everyone in Three Forks knows exactly who Jordan is, and he is playing the male lead in not Romeo and Juliet, but the more accessible West Side Story. He’s also not speaking to Jessica anymore. Obviously she never liked him for himself, only what he could do for her “career.”
This book starts off rather cleverly and ends with some laugh-out-loud moments anyone who’s ever been in high school plays will definitely enjoy. Too few romance couples meet cute, but Jordan and Jessica definitely do. Having finished her shift at Wal-Mart, Jessica searches for her silver Honda Civic in the parking lot – only when she finds it she won’t start. That’s because she’s actually in Jordan’s silver Honda Civic. Whoops. When he approaches and wants his car back, she mistakes him for a carjacker and a domino effect of embarrassing moments begins.
In addition to being somewhat accident – or as she states it, “embarrassment-prone” – Jessica can also be manipulative and selfish. Her initial involvement with Jordan is self-seeking, and he isn’t the only one she’s willing to elbow aside for her own happiness. Fortunately, she has other better qualities and does eventually realize how she’s hurt the people she loves. When she gets a crap part in West Side Story as a result of confronting her drama teacher about why everyone knows who Jordan is when it was supposed to be a secret, she takes her lumps and shows up at all the rehearsals anyway. And when Jordan gives her the cold shoulder, she takes it on the chin. She knows she deserves it.
At 186 pages, this is a fairly short book, but it has somewhat of a Long Separation. Jessica and Jordan’s attraction to each other heats up quickly and then cools abruptly. He won’t speak to her for the entire two months they are rehearsing the play, which means a dearth of romantic interludes between them. Page-wise, it lasts less than 30 pages, but it seems longer. Fortunately they come back together in literally dramatic fashion, when the students’ production of goes horribly and comically awry.
As I’ve said numerous times before, I’m a fan of YA fiction. But sometimes I wish there was more lighthearted non-series stuff to be found in this section. Teens who like Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen won’t find many similarly straightforward angst-free romantic books like it. Every once in awhile you do run something, however, and Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List is such a book. And if you balk at the hardcover price, there’s always the library.