Smile for the Camera - Review

Smile for the Camera by Kelle James

Publication date: November 2nd 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's
ISBN 10/13: 1442406232 / 9781442406230

Category: Memoir, Modeling, Acting, Child Celebrity
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Determination, Success, Friendship, Exploitation

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How I found out about this book: I was just walking through the Young Adult section one day and saw this on the shelf. I don't know... it kind of smiled at me and I couldn't resist! (Click on Read More)

My review: I liked it, kind of despite myself--modeling and child-stars not really being an interest of mine. What intrigued me was her down-to-earth voice and sheer determination to succeed no matter what. Any modern teen with a job shoveling salads and dodging grabby hands all day would probably be depressed as all get out. Not Kelle James. She stands up straight and smiles in the face of adversity, even as it tries to bend her over and take her money.

I hope she writes more. While not on par with Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle, James manages to knit together the events and emotions of her young life into an understandable and entertaining read. When she first mentions being friends with a possible murderer, I had to Google it right away. Kelle writes about Buddy in a genuinely affectionate way. He may be the strangest one of her friends who helped her through tough times, homeless and exploited as a teen all alone in New York City.

Who might like this book: Any teen who likes true-to-life stories. There are some descriptions of sex, drugs, and alcohol that may be inappropriate for younger readers. I'll soon be posting an article about issues-related books (those dealing with recovery, rape, incest, abuse, alcoholism, bullying and the like) and this would float to the top as one of the less "heavy" tales. James writes with the innocence of her sixteen-year-old self, and while her story is moving, I didn't find it half as disturbing some of the others I have read.

Smile for the Camera is Kelle James's first book.
Find the author at, on Twitter @kellejames

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What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)