Speed Read//Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Speed Read is a recommendation tool for librarians, booksellers, teachers, and parents featuring books with high interest.

Title: Famous in a Small Town

Author: Emma Mills

Publisher: Henry Holt

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

Summary:  “For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm’s length. Sophie in particular.

Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.” -Goodreads synopsis

Why to recommend it: 

-This contemporary YA is a realistic look at life in a small town. The teen characters poke fun at how small their world, a little town named Acadia, can feel but it’s clear that the author understands growing up in a town like this one. Mills highlights the thrill of a new student and the possibility of change. She writes about the local hangouts and how quickly they get old. It’s one of those settings that feels so completely real that a reader will forget they’re reading a book.

-The story is funny and light in some places but it also features loss, regret, and mental health. Emma Mills’ writing will scratch that contemporary itch for readers looking for a well-rounded story that features the real ups and downs of life. Her characters are messy, complicated, and reactive–just like real teens.

-Though there is a romantic storyline, the diverse friend group is the real star of the show. Emma Mills created a outstandingly dynamic friend group. Sophie and her friends are band geeks who are as devoted to their marching band as they are to each other. Friends since they were little kids, the gang is super close but still welcoming to outsiders. They hang out in the Teen Zone 2 (an affectionate nod to the local public library’s “Teen Zone”) and have a plethora of inside jokes. Band kids will rejoice at this awesome portrayal of teens like them and other teens not in marching band will relate to the close bonds too.

-August, the new kid in town, is part of a non-traditional family. He lives with his brother, sister-in-law, and nieces. He has had a tough relationship with his mom, who is currently in prison, and his brother is helping him get a fresh start. Emma Mills explores what family means not only for August but Sophie too.

-Furthering the small town feel, Emma Mills includes a fun storyline about the local winner of an American Idol-like contest. Megan Pleasant, a girl from Acadia, made it big time after she won a reality contest. She is a hometown hero and there’s a fun plot as the characters go on a quest to get Lauren to return to Acadia for the first time in years to help the local marching band. This subplot keeps readers interested!

Who to recommend it to: 

-Actual small town teens! Sometimes YA can feel like it has so many books set in big cities and this one really gets that hometown feel right.

-Teen readers looking for funny books. Emma Mills sarcastic, quick wit will keep teens laughing.

-Readers looking for books that feature plot twists. This is a great rec for readers who aren’t into mysteries or thrillers but enjoy light suspense.

-Readers looking for books where romance isn’t the main storyline.

-Teens dealing with the loss of a sibling.

-Teens feeling nervous about the future. Sophie deals with feeling unsure about leaving her hometown. Her friends are eager to live and move on to a bigger and better place but Sophie feels like she belongs in Acadia. This book features Sophie working through her feelings about growing up and moving on.

-Fans of Amy Spalding, Katie Cotugno, & Jenny Han will love this book.

Add Famous in a Small Town to your Goodreads shelves and check out Emma Mills’ Twitter.

Thank you to Henry Holt for the free review copy of Famous in a Small Town


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