Review: Fame Adjacent by Sarah Skilton

Title: Fame Adjacent
Author: Sarah Skilton
Release Date: 4/9/2019
Publisher: Grand Central
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars
Buy it!

Trigger Warnings: talk of suicide attempt at end of book

The child star that was left behind is about to get her moment to shine in this swoony romantic comedy inspired by a unique, beloved facet of pop culture history: The Mickey Mouse Club.

Holly Danner has a complicated relationship with fame. It’s not easy being the only cast member of a 1990s song-and-dance show who didn’t become famous. When she was eleven, she used to do anything for a laugh (or at least a laugh-track) on “Diego and the Lion’s Den.” If she talked about it–which she almost never does–Holly might explain how her childhood best friends came to dominate the worlds of pop music, film, and TV while she was relegated to a few near-misses and a nanny gig for her niece. She’d even be telling the truth about making peace with the whole thing years ago.

But when she finds out there’s a 25th anniversary for the show planned–a televised reunion, clip show, and panel–and she wasn’t invited, it’s time for an impromptu road trip to crash the event and set the record straight. Three problems: she’s currently in Internet Rehab (perhaps she’s not quite as well-adjusted as she believes…), she has no cash, and the only person who can get her across the country in time is Thom Parker, a handsome, infuriatingly level-headed patient who doesn’t think she should confront her famous ex-friends.

FAME ADJACENT is a contemporary, realistic, and humorous look at love, friendship, and fame, as seen through the eyes of a girl who lived it–from the sidelines.

Ooooh, boy, this one was quite the train wreck. Normally it doesn’t take me more than a few days to get through a book, or when I’m not as busy I can go through one or two a day, but this one took me about two weeks to read. Not because it was long, but because it was so bad that I just did not want to pick it up. Sure, I could have DNFed it, but I knew I had it in me to finish, so I pushed myself. Because I was challenging myself to reach the end, once I did I had a big feeling of accomplishment and also a long ragey note on my phone.

The beginning of this book was so incredibly slow. There wasn’t a whole lot taking place, in fact, most of the entire book didn’t have much going on; instead, most of what I was reading was inner monologue and conversation between the characters. Once I hit the 15% mark the main character, Holly, finally started to establish a story long relationship with Thom, and for the first time, I thought maybe I was going to enjoy the book. That was also when I still had faith in Holly and believed some character development would be taking place. She is such a terrible and annoying person. I tried really hard to feel for her and understand what she was going through, but her self-centeredness was such a huge turn off for me and I was disappointed to find that she never changed.

There were also many instances that honestly just left me quite shocked:

  • The first time Holly tried coming onto Thom sexually, he respectfully told her that he wasn’t interested, but she continued to push the subject and attempt to force a relationship on him several more times throughout the book. Because of that, I was incredibly disappointed when they ended up in a relationship before the conclusion of the story.
  • When Thom and Holly start their road trip, Thom tells Holly that it should take them 25 hours to get to their destination, but that he hadn’t planned on a passenger and her girl bladder making them stop every 50 minutes. I had to actually go back and read this a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. We’re living in 2019, stop with your sexist “jokes”.
  • A little over a quarter of the way into the book Holly talks about how two of her former castmates ended up forming a singing duo called Manchot (the French word for penguin) because one of the girls is black and the other girl is white. Holly at least makes a comment on how the name is horrifying, but I was just left completely taken aback. It felt racially insensitive, and even though the main character commented on it, there was no need for it to be in the book.
  • Towards the end, Thom mentions how he hasn’t skated in a while, and Holly thinks to herself how he’s been trapped because of his son, Sammy. No. No. No. No. No. Devoting time to taking care of your medically needy child does not mean you are trapped, it means you’re a good person.

Overall the writing was just incredibly underwhelming. The pacing of the entire novel was so slow that it never felt like anything was actually happening. I was also very disappointed with the lack of 90s nostalgia. Going into Fame Adjacent, I was expecting references from the 90s to be thrown at me left and right, but I noticed hardly any. It also didn’t seem like things between Holly and her former co-stars was resolved. Sure, they talked about everything, and they all brought up some good points about why things happened the way they did, but there wasn’t any finality about anything. They just kind of parted ways again and that was that. Since the entire book was Holly dealing with the fact that she was the outsider among the group, I really just wanted to see some sort of resolution about the whole thing.

So now that I’ve complained about this book, do I suggest you put it out of your mind and never think about it again? Absolutely not. Unless a book is completely problematic and harmful, I never want to discourage you from reading a book I didn’t like. I’m somebody that believes not every book is for every person. Fame Adjacent definitely was not the book for me, but it could very well be the book for you.

A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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