Claim to Fame is a coming of age story with a paranormal twist. A former television star has become a virtual recluse in a small Illinois college town. She has done so because she can hear everything anyone in the world says about her. Is it telepathy? Extraordinary hearing? Psychosis? Well, it’s not psychosis because it turns out that she’s not the only one with this ability. She doesn’t know this though until she’s forced out of her shell by an attempted rescue/kidnapping. Due to her family situation, she’s worried that she’ll be made to leave her safe haven if people discover that she’s underage and all alone. While trying to protect herself, she makes friends and learns about self worth.
This book is written by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Haddix is a New York Times best selling author. She is best known for her speculative fiction that includes Double Identity, the Missing series, and the Shadow Children series. Her fiction often explores a political or scientific situation gone to the extreme. For example, in Double Identity, Haddix wrote about cloning; and in the Shadow Children series, she extrapolated what might occur if population control measures were stringently enforced.
*** Some SPOILERS Ahead. Read at your own risk ***
Claim to Fame is a good addition to Haddix’s writing. One of the interesting ideas that it brought up is about self-awareness. Do we create our own self esteem or is it shaped by the opinions of those around us? Much of social etiquette was created to maintain a delicate balance of truth and face saving white lies. If we don’t have the fiction of politeness to protect us, would our self esteem stand up to the abuse? Another idea this story proposed was about Transcendentalism and their quest to know God. It seems to me, that in their quest, the Clay family, in particular, experienced an unfortunate side effect reminiscent of the Tower of Babel. In seeking to know God, their senses were confused and some of them lost their ability to trust others. It’s interesting that the main character was able to change her perception of her ability in such a way that it became a blessing.
The book avoids most of the melodramatic. The characters are people you might expect to meet but who are dealing with unusual circumstances. The characters were interesting, but some of the secondary ones were only two dimensional. The ending is hopeful, but you know that there is still much to overcome. I recommend this book for readers who enjoy speculative fiction that causes you to think.