Monday, June 19, 2006

Amazing Grace: 48 Hours

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull, finished after midnight, 247 pages. (Yes, I'm posting after the end of the "official" 48 hours, but it is within my 48 hours, and last night I wanted to sleep.)

Teen celebrity runs away to an anonymous, working class world, finds love, acceptance, and herself. Yes, it is similar to True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, but that book is a humorous look at the running away; this one is more serious. And interestingly, in the humorous book, the people lied to by the celebrity are hurt, while the ones here in Amazing Grace are very accepting.

Both books start with the break; in the past is both the celebrity itself and the actual work involved in obtaining that success. The "serious" book has Grace (now known as Emily) almost untouched by her celebrity; she's never had a drink or a boyfriend. Yet the "humorous" True Confessions has a teen celebrity who is no virgin, and has just gotten out of rehab. Part of that may be the work behind the celebrity, with Grace being a tennis star, and so as an athlete with endorsements is "just visiting" celebrity town, while Morgan of True Confessions is a movie star so lives there 24/7.

I find it very interesting that neither look at the work or sacrifices or the adult role in achieving the success, until the point where the teen wants or needs to get out. The role of stage parent is an interesting one, yet here there is almost no stage parent, except a reference to a dead father who loved tennis. Would a parent who sued for her child's right to turn professional at 13 be the same who is instantly so supportive of the child wanting to leave?

I think it's this: in Amazing Grace (as with True Confessions) the teen wanted to regain her childhood. Thus, a responsible parent willing and able to be a "real" parent is necessary for the child to retreat out of the professional word. So in both, when the teen becomes a teen again there is not only an aunt who assumes parental responsibility, but there is a Mom waiting to be a "Mom." Because if the mother were the true stage parent, that parent would never have consented to breaking contracts and dropping out -- which means that the story wouldn't be about a teen becoming a teen, but, rather, a teen having to become an adult to break the ties with the parent to take the reigns of her own career. In order to have the teen enjoy the life of an average teen, Mom must "be" a caring supportive Mom -- which leaves the question (and here more than in True Confessions), who was driving the bus? Because, on a serious note, like Gregory K and his fibs and his book deal -- there are no Cinderella stories in success. There is work, hard work. And Grace's work didn't just happen. I'm not saying this book ignores that; there are references to how Grace become a celebrity. All I'm saying, Amazing Grace does not explore the darkness and corruptness that sometimes happens when the parent is living off the talented child and the child has become a commodity.

These are the books that answer the question, what if Britney/Lindsay wanted out? They don't answer the question, how did Britney/Lindsay become the "star"? And they also don't explore, what happens when the child wants independence, ala Michelle Williams?

Enough seriousness. I also liked how in the end Grace may give up on "celebrity" but not on tennis. And that there were no mean girls.

(Note: I am not commenting on the similarities to say, ooh, look how similar they are! I'm commenting because I think it shows some interesting points that both authors are making, with the main one being, hold onto and enjoy your teenage years instead of rushing into responsibility and adulthood.)


Little Willow said...

YAY. Love this book.

Liz B said...

The drawback of 48 hours is I haven't had the time to revise my reviews & include all I would like; for example, I cannot believe I forgot to blog about the house! And how only a few details created such a whole world. And the great emotional impact at the start of the book, even tho we never find out the one triggering moment. Because we realize its just one moment of many...

Anyways, thank you for the recommendation.

Little Willow said...

You are welcome. Thank YOU for taking me up on it!