Camden Town Tales: The Celeb Next Door – review

camdenCamden is the perfect location for this trilogy of stories by Hilary Freeman about three best friends. The Celeb Next Door (the other two are Stuck On Me and The Boy From France) is the story of Rosie , who is obsessed with her favourite band, Fieldstar. When she discovers that the band’s drummer, Rufus, has bought the house next door, she can barely contain her excitement. She’s already bored her friends Vix and Sky with her ‘Celebometer’, a celebrity-spotting game that’s easy to play when you live in a trendy, quirky part of London.

Through her dad’s painting and decorating business, Rosie soon gets to know Rufus and his girlfriend quite well – and it’s with a slight sense of disappointment as she realises they’re quite ordinary people, really. When Rufus’s younger brother Max comes to stay, Rosie agrees to show him around Camden. But before long it’s clear that Max fancies Rosie, and, not wanting to hurt his feelings (or, to be frank, miss out on free tickets to the band’s gigs), Rosie agrees to go out with him. Even though she doesn’t actually fancy him. And even though her best friend Vix DOES fancy him. Ouch. And oops.

This is a light, enjoyable tale of friends and boyfriends and bands and – well, being a teenager. What I liked particularly was the strong friendship between the girls – and the great development of the on/off romance between Rosie and Max. Confused Rosie, who really can’t be sure one way or the other how she feels: and of course sometimes you DO grow to fancy someone, don’t you? Even if you didn’t to start with? And poor patient Max, who just wants a kiss and to hold hands and to be able to put his arm around her. And loyal but injured Vix, who finds it very hard to stand by while her friend messes about with Max’s feelings.

The real star of the book, though, is Camden Town itself. Hilary Freeman knows Camden well and her love of the area shines through. The places the girls go to ‘celeb-spot’, the shops they frequent, the coffee bars and parks…even the strange and wonderful people who populate the area are vividly described.

For all celeb-obsessed girls (and boys!) of 10 upwards, this is a really fun, cheerful and enjoyable read that touches on teenage anxieties and issues without ever letting them dominate.

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