A teenage paparazzo makes a dangerous discovery in this timely look at celebrity “that is likely to be snapped up and make a lasting impression” (School Library Journal).
All Jamie Gordon wants to do is to take pictures of celebrities...and maybe to become famous herself. She’s only fourteen, but already her work is sought after by fanzines and websites, and she’s invited to all the best parties. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: She has been invited to spend a week with Willow Twine, taking pictures of the teen superstar’s new chaste life. But when Jamie gets her hands on some sensational shots of Willow, she’s suddenly in over her head. The pictures could make her career—and destroy Willow’s. It seems like everyone’s eager to get their hands on the photos, and Jamie has to decide what she really wants...and what she’s willing to pay to get it.
WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT BEING FAMOUS?
Your photo on omg! and TMZ? Or on the cover of People? That long white limousine gliding to a stop before a crowd of adoring fans? The blinding caress of flashing cameras? The eager outstretched hands offering photos and scraps of paper for your autograph? Do you imagine strolling up the red carpet? The doors that open only for you? The embrace of the world? The admiration and envy . . . everyone craving and wanting you?
The you, you, you of it all?
But you know, don’t you, that what you imagine is an illusion? Just a frail, fleeting flower offered up by a vast, thorny jungle? Yes, you know about fame because you’ve read the magazines and seen all those stars on TV and on the Web. But that’s only the flower, only the part they want you to see. It’s not the reality. There’s so much they don’t let you see. The needle-sharp thorns. The climbing, choking vines. The hungry, sucking roots.
Or maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t really want to know. You prefer the fantasy. Just the flower, please. Fame as you imagine it. The mansions, private yachts and jets, all those adoring fans, all that attention. All that you, you, you. Because you really don’t care about the reality. It’s not your problem because they’re them and you’re you. And even though the magazines say They’re Just Like Us! they’re not really. They’re prettier, smarter, richer, and, to be brutally honest, just better.
Oops! I said it, didn’t I? That they’re better than you. And better than me.
Sucks, doesn’t it? That deep down you believe they must be better, different, special. They have to be better.
Because they’re famous.
And you’re not.
But maybe that’s not the whole truth either.
Maybe the truth is, they’re no better than you or me or anyone else.
Then why do we think they are?
Perhaps because we want to. We need to.
Suppose I told you that I was once famous. People on the street recognized me. They asked for my autograph and wanted me to pose for photos with them.
Suppose I told you that there were stories about me in magazines and newspapers, and interviews on TV. On network TV, not that cheesy joke that passes for your local news and weather channel.
Suppose I told you that for a brief period of time photographers and videographers followed me everywhere, taking my picture and filming me, posting the shots and footage on the celebrity gossip sites and publishing the photos in the tabloids.
Cool, huh? Being famous like that. All that attention. All those people knowing who I was. All that me, me, me.
Can you imagine?
Only, whatever you imagine is so not the way it really is.
Suppose I told you that I hung out with one of the most famous stars in all of Hollywood? A name known by everyone who hasn’t spent the past twenty years in some cave in Siberia. I stayed at her mansion, and we shopped and partied together. We hung around her pool and gossiped about hair and clothes and guys. We went to the homes of other huge stars and to the after-hours clubs only the superfamous can get into.
Todd Strasser has written many critically acclaimed novels for adults, teenagers, and children, including the award-winning Can’t Get There from Here, Give a Boy a Gun, Boot Camp, If I Grow Up, Famous, and How I Created My Perfect Prom Date, which became the Fox feature film Drive Me Crazy. Todd lives in a suburb of New York and speaks frequently at schools. Visit him at ToddStrasser.com.