A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some advanced vocabulary definitions like "epidermis" and "alliteration." A section on the history of fame with brief biographies and facts about famous historical figures. Facts and figures supported by citations in Endnotes section. Clear, simple charts and diagrams help visualize topics and conclusions.
Fame can affect your happiness, but it's not a way to become happy. If you were unhappy before you became famous, you'll still be unhappy when you are famous. Happiness comes from pursuing your passions, not from getting rewards or recognition. Don't get too attached to fame, because it doesn't last.
Positive Role Models
The author, Josh, is a strong role model for curiosity and communication. When he wants to learn more about something, or how to achieve a goal, he researches and tries things to see if they work, and he's willing to work hard to achieve his goals. He demonstrates empathy and provides a good example of how he responded to an internet troll commenter and turned the situation around. He shows that he learned from his mistakes, theoretically living a healthier lifestyle now after doing some dangerous things to his body (mostly in terms of diet). He provides guidelines at the end of the book for pursuing fame in a relatively healthy way while maintaining an awareness that it's not going to solve all his problems.
The author recognizes his implicit biases, speaks from his own experience, asks others how issues affect them. He's a White male and is missing part of one leg, which he lost in childhood to cancer. His interview subjects come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
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Violence & Scariness
A section about celebrity deaths mentions suicide. A brief mention of self-harm.
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"Damn," "crap," and "WTF."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of social media and websites mentioned, plus a few references to pop culture and entertainment people and franchises. One mention of Xanax.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several mentions of people who've died from overdosing on drugs and from alcohol poisoning. Fame is compared to an addiction and "turns us into junkies." Mention of an adult being offered a cocktail and taking Xanax to mitigate panic. Mention of an adult's struggle with drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Semi-Famous: A True Story of Near Celebrity, by popular YA author Josh Sundquist, seeks to answer the question of whether achieving fame, celebrity, and wealth can make us happy. A chapter on celebrity deaths includes a trigger warning and references to death from overdose, alcohol poisoning, and suicide. Self-harm is mentioned once. Eating and mental disorders are discussed, including effects of maintaining very low weight and trying to gain weight quickly. There's a mention of Xanax, and fame is compared to drug addiction. Rare mild language includes "damn," "crap," and "WTF."
Is It Any Good?
This lively, funny look at fame and happiness is also well researched and very informative. Semi-Famous: A True Story of Near Celebrity takes the subject seriously without the author taking himself too seriously.
The many clever and also funny charts and diagrams help keep things lively, too. Readers will learn a lot about fame and celebrity while also getting a lot of food for thought about what those things mean, why we want them, what we'll do to get them, and how they affect those who have it as well as those who want it.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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