If Friends Were a YA Novel

Famous in a Small TownFamous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You won’t stop meaning something to us just because you think you’re temporary. —Sophie

After reading a bunch of fantasy novels, it’s nice to finally return to reality. Also, it’s been a while since I gave a contemporary book four stars. Ugh, most YA contemporary novels these days do not hit the mark. With that in mind, I’m thrilled that my first Emma Mills novel did not disappoint me. If you want to read a book that is equally serious and hilarious, you’re in for a treat.

Compared to its peers, this book is less about romance and more about friendship. Gleaning from the book’s title, Sophie is a girl who lives in a small town. Her social circle is unsurprisingly tiny, but its members (Terrance, Dash, Brit, and Flora) are undeniably priceless. After knowing each other since childhood, Sophie and her friends have become thick as thieves, practically siblings. One day, a new guy named August moves into town and gradually becomes a part of their tight-knit group. And even though he seems so detached and unwilling to form meaningful connections, Sophie wishes that he’s here to stay.

I gave Famous in a Small Town four stars mainly because of Sophie’s very amusing conversations with her friends. I think I started laughing as early as page 3. The author’s dry, sarcastic humor complemented the personalities of her relatable characters. I particularly resonated with Sophie’s goal-oriented approach to her education, Dash’s serious demeanor, and August’s reserved attitude. Moreover, the dialogues were written in such a casual way that it was like watching a slice-of-life anime. If this book had 400+ pages, I probably wouldn’t notice the length because I would be too busy smiling and chuckling.

In light of its genre, I didn’t expect this book to have plot twists, let alone remarkable ones. One of the conflicts involved a country star named Megan Pleasant, and I immediately assumed that she had a history with August, who often became quiet or nonchalant when Sophie and the others talked about her. I laughed when I learned that my hunch was so far from the truth. The second plot twist was much more confounding. Several chapters were about Sophie’s interactions with a particular character, whom I had assumed was still…alive. Hahaha. Kudos to the author for deceiving me through the format or sequencing of her work.

Regardless of my enjoyment, I couldn’t disregard the relatively shallow romance. Indeed, I liked that it wasn’t the highlight of the story. Still, Sophie’s decision to “like” August was too quick (page 52). It came to the point that she took hold of the reigns and initiated a DTR moment. When August kindly placed Sophie in the #FriendZone, I didn’t feel sorry for her at all. She should’ve taken more time to evaluate the depth of her feelings instead of rushing to enter a romantic relationship. As for August, it would have been better if he had been clearer about his intentions. That way, both of them could’ve avoided emotional turmoil.

In totality, Famous in a Small Town is a fascinating story of friendship. It delineates how it’s better to have a few best friends than a multitude of mere acquaintances. You can look forward to meeting a charming cast of characters who will make you laugh and reflect on important things. If you don’t mind the instalove, you’ll enjoy the book more than I did.