A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Fame Game is the first book in a series about young aspiring stars cast in a reality TV show. There's lots of shopping, starving to be thin, and Botox, plus underage characters who drink, swear ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "pissed"), and feud with one another. On the romance front, there's some kissing, flirting, and mentions of sleepovers, though nothing explicit is described. This book may encourage reluctant readers to read and get all teens thinking about the impact of reality TV. But overall, it's unclear whether the characters learn very much -- or whether the author has any other real point.
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What's the story?
Aptly named producer Trevor Lord has a new reality show to launch: The Fame Game, about four aspiring stars living in Los Angeles and their attempts to claw their way into the limelight. He casts scheming Madison Parker (the backstabbing diva of author Lauren Conrad's last series, L.A. Candy) and emaciated entertainment host Gaby, as well as Carmen, an actress and daughter to a Hollywood power couple, and sweet Kate, a guitar-playing girl who moved from Ohio to become a singer and songwriter.
But even before the show airs, the girls' lives get a lot more complicated thanks to some off-camera manipulation from the producers: Madison has to deal with her deadbeat dad's sudden reappearance in her life, and Kate's new romance with a dashing soap star is jeopardized when he and Carmen -- cast as co-stars in a hot new movie -- start publicly pretending to be a couple. The Fame Game four may be looking good in trendy haircuts and designer labels, but inside they're starting to crumble.
Is it any good?
THE FAME GAME is a pretty superficial read. Even sophisticated readers will have a hard time piecing together what exactly Conrad is trying to say about reality TV (or aspiring stars who are willing to submit to surgery and starvation for a chance at fame). But teens looking for a fun series to while away hot summer afternoons at the pool will find enough drama and designer brands to get them through this debut installment. Bottom line? Not exactly a brain booster, but a fun enough guilty pleasure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about reality TV. In The Fame Game, scenes are scripted to play up manufactured storylines, and stars are even fed lines from the show's producer. Does knowing this information change your feelings about reality TV? Why do you think it continues to be popular -- even when fans know it's fake?
Why do you think Lauren Conrad includes details like characters starving themselves and enduring surgery and other extreme procedures to look a certain way? Does she want you to judge the characters -- or our celebrity-obsessed culture?
Concerned parents may want to review Common Sense Media's Girls and Body Image Tips for some facts and discussion ideas.
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