Monday, April 13, 2015

Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 2009 (also, a lot of rambling about Richard III)

It was a talent that came out of nowhere. One day Lindsay Scott was on top of the world, the star of a hit TV show. The next day her fame had turned into torture.
Every time anyone said anything about her, she heard it. And everyone was talking about Lindsay: fans, friends, enemies, enemies who pretended to be friends....
Lindsay had what looked like a nervous breakdown and vanished from the public eye. But now she's sixteen and back in the news: A tabloid newspaper claims that Lindsay is being held hostage by her father.
The truth? Lindsay has been hiding out in a small Illinois town, living in a house that somehow provides relief from the stream of voices in her head. But when two local teenagers try to "rescue" Lindsay by kidnapping her, Lindsay is forced to confront everything she's been hiding from. And that's when she discovers there may be others who share her strange power. Lindsay is desperate to learn more, but what is she willing to risk to find the truth?

(272 pages)

My Richard III books (no, I'm
not using Sent for research - I
just used this as an excuse
to re-read it)
I'm in a bit of a review-writing slump right now. I've been so busy in my personal life lately that blogging has had to go on the back-burner. Speaking of busy, my capstone project in AP English is a speech about Richard III. I've been really swamped researching it - and by swamped, I mean "my floor has been devoured by history books" -  but it's been incredibly fascinating learning so much about a period I never really knew much about. I piled all of my research books up and took a picture. I've got quite a stash, haven't I?

But I digress. I'm not supposed to be talking about Richard III, am I? I'm supposed to be talking about Lindsay Scott. As I sit here typing, trying really hard to stay focused but not succeeding very well, it occurs to me that on the surface Richard and Lindsay are so different there is literally no real comparison that can be made between them that would segue into the review at hand. They're just about polar opposites, completely different in so many respects - most noticeably in the fact that Richard was a real person, and Lindsay is not. Also, they would have lived 500 years apart.

Actually, the more I think about it the more similarities I see between them. Being king of England 500 years ago was a lot like being a TV-star today: you were rich, famous, powerful, and under constant public scrutiny. Most striking in this (slightly ridiculous, I know) comparison is the fact that both kings and TV-stars are subject (pun intended!) to some serious double-talking. A king's subjects pretend to adore him so much, then turn around and curse him behind his back. A TV-star's costars and fans may offer her nothing but smiles and roses on set - but then go home and privately rant about how much they hate her. It takes a thick hide to live surrounded by such duplicity. Well, a thick hide or complete innocence about the vindictiveness of human nature.

And this is where I manage to segue into talking about the book at hand! Lindsay is an ex-TV-star. She was at the top of her game, a queen in her own court by the time she was eleven. She had that innocence that goes with childhood, and honestly believed that the entire world adored her. Then one day she was able to hear everything that was said about her, everywhere. Her naivety was shattered, her trust broken, and her confidence destroyed. Unable to cope with the stress of hearing exactly what everyone around said about her, she became a virtual recluse. She moved halfway across the country to a new house, one that somehow blocks her debilitating ability - though how, she had no idea. And didn't really care.

The book follows Lindsay five years after moving to Springdale as she is forced to come to terms with everything that has happened to her and learn how to function in the real world. She unearths some very hard truths about her relationship with her (newly deceased) father and the fate of the mother she never knew, even as she forges new relationships and decides whether she will spend her life hiding from the world, or will go out and actually live her life. Haddix introduces a lot of deep themes in Claim to Fame, and it's a very grabbing/thought-provoking read. The book's biggest flaw in my eyes is actually that it doesn't dig as deep as it could into these themes. I suppose that's just a sign that I'm past the target age, though - the first time I read Claim to Fame, I thought it was perfect. 

It's not perfect. I can see that now. But it's still very good, and raises a lot of interesting points about everything from transcendentalism to parent-child communication in a manner that just about anyone can digest. If anything I've said about the book interests you, then I highly recommend it.

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