From the BLURB:
Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbours flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.
Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers are teen-pop sensations. They are enjoying a fourth season of their popular family sing-along show, ‘Jenna and Jonah’ and each has a tidy nest egg fortune to take them into their dotage. But their fame and fortune all hinge on one little itty bitty lie – that they are as in love off-screen as they are on-screen.
Charlie and Fielding have been playing their dual-roles of Jenna and Jonah, with the added drama of their ‘loved-up’ real-life persona's, throughout their childhood. But all that is about to come crashing down with a gay-rumour and a possible cancellation of their money-maker.
Now Charlie and Fielding have to show the world that their love is true and their acting up to snuff . . . and they have to do it all without a script.
‘Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance’ is a stand-alone YA novel from Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin.
I have to admit, this cutesy-pink front cover had me fooled. I thought ‘Fauxmance’ would be aimed at a younger market, and have more jokes than heated romance. So I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading and discovered the rather acerbic perspectives of the two young protagonists.
The ‘Jenna’ half of the equation is Charlie Tracker – and she is under no illusions with regards to her career. Charlie is a child star and she speaks candidly (tongue firmly in cheek) about how her career only sky-rocketed when she got boobs that helped to attract a male audience. She was also emancipated from her money-swindling parents at the tender age of fifteen. Charlie is a driven perfectionist – a diva on set, but only to mask a deep inner fear that acting is all she knows how to do and if it’s taken away from her she’ll have nothing left. . .
Fielding Withers is actually Aaron Littleton, the ‘Jonah’ of the show. He was a ‘discovered talent’ – a farm boy from the Midwest who was chosen for the show based on his chemistry with Charlie . . . which, over the years and strained by their ‘fauxmance’, has turned into barely suppressed hatred. Fielding ‘Aaron’ speaks very candidly in his chapters about being 18 and desperate to take advantage of his legal-aged female fan base. He is very open (and funny) about his frustrated libido and the morality-clause in his contract that prevents him from sampling the fan-goods . . . not to mention his fear of camera phones if he were to go out on an all-night bender and ‘cheat’ on his girlfriend.
I rather liked the fact that Franklin and Halpin gave ‘Fauxmance’ a bit of edge and bite by making their protagonists imperfect and discussing the reality of teen stardom. Aaron talks about his fellow male acting friends who are firmly ‘in the closet’, lest they be type-cast or lose their all-important female fan-base. Charlie also talks about being scared to gain weight or being contractually obligated to never cut her hair and of the creepy older-men stalkers who make up her fan-base. I liked that Franklin and Haipin delved into the glitzy/grimy world of Hollywood. Even more so when all of that is taken away from Charlie and Aaron with one false rumour about sexual orientation . . .
“Who the hell is Aaron Littleton?” Charlies asks.“He’s me. Or, anyway, he’s who I used to be. He’s who I think I’m going to be again. I was thirteen when Mom picked my stage name, and I hate it. Fielding. I mean, it’s not a name. It’s a verb. Fielding. My name is a gerund. It’s what American League designated hitters don’t get to do.”A strange expression flits across Charlie’s face, but it quickly goes away, replaced by the angry face she’s had on pretty much ever since we got here. “Well, great, Aaron, I’m really glad you’re finding yourself. But, you know, I already knew who I was, and despite the fact that I had to hang out with you, I liked who I was. Now I’m nobody.”
Unfortunately, the book went a bit wonky for me towards the end. To save their careers (and prove a point) Charlie and Aaron sign up to do Shakespearian theatre and perform the roles of Beatrice and Benedick in the Bard’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. It’s here that Franklin and Halpin seem to realize that they’ve already made a sort-of-maybe Benedick/Beatrice couple in Charlie and Aaron . . . so they decide to drive the point home by having them play the classic love/hate roles.
This was a bit like the authors hitting readers over the head, repeatedly, to prove the point. I don’t know if they thought we wouldn't get the subtlety of Charlie and Aaron knowing one another so well (while loathing each other) or if they wanted to heighten their plot by including some modern Shakespeare . . . either way, I don’t think the Benedick/Beatrice plot worked well for the dénouement. I think the young Hollywood angle worked really well, and it just seemed like the updating of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ could be a separate book all together . . . meshing the two of them detracted from the glitzy Hollywood focal point of ‘Fauxmance’, while insulting reader’s intelligence by labelling Charlie and Aaron as modern-day Beatrice and Benedick.
I liked the beginning of this book. Famous tween couples are a perverse fascination for people everywhere, and I think Franklin and Haipin were onto a good thing with a book about the behind-the-scenes of a real/fake Hollywood romance. But the book lost me when they decided to write a last minute update of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. I wanted them to choose one or the other, but not both storylines.