The uneven follow-up to Charly's Epic Fiascos (2012) shows determined and headstrong Charly trying to balance her newfound star status with her roots and responsibilities.
Having escaped her Chicago-area hometown, Charly is living with her father in New York and auditioning for acting roles. Despite tactics readers will recognize as unprofessional (crashing a sitcom audition, Shih Tzu in hand, and improvising lines), Charly is invited to be part of The Extreme Dream Team, a reality show in which she and three other stars give “life makeovers” to deserving teens. The show takes Charly on a set of trips around the country, and there is plenty of boy drama as well as tension with a female co-star who may or may not have Charly's best interests in mind. Charly is still connected to her friends and sister from home, and some of the book's most poignant moments come as she tries to help her younger sister in the wake of their mother's neglect. Some of Charly's adventures, however, are a bit too predictable, and a conclusion in which one character's underhandedness is revealed feels abrupt and unconvincing.
A fizzy and warmhearted take on teen stardom, but readers will have to work hard to suspend their disbelief. (Fiction. 12-16)