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The Celebrity    by Robert Elmer order for
by Robert Elmer
Order:  USA  Can
WaterBrook Press, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Jamie D. Lane is one of the world's leading pop singers. His life is rich in travel, money, honor, and admiration. But even with all of this, Jamie is terribly unhappy and exhausted. His mother is in a nursing home in California with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Right before a televised concert in London, he receives a message saying he must return to say goodbye because she does not have much time left. Even though she hasn't recognized him for a long time, his mother miraculously experiences a last moment of clarity and asks Jamie to help her return to her hometown of Riverdale, Washington.

Against the wishes of his agent and producer, Jamie takes an impromptu vacation. He changes his appearance and identity and tells no one of his plans to return his mother's ashes to Riverdale. When he arrives in town, much to his relief, no one recognizes him. One of the first people he encounters is Anne Stewart, who has returned home to Riverdale to recuperate after being hit by a drunk driver (she suffered a head injury and continues to struggle with memory, as well as with her other injuries). Jamie is finding Riverdale to be the breath of fresh air he needs. He treasures his new friendships. But how will the locals react when they find out his identity? And will Anne be able to forgive his deception at such a vulnerable time in her life?

This is a smoothly written, unique tale. It's fascinating to see someone who has everything (fame, fortune, admiring fans), so incredibly unhappy and unfulfilled. Jamie is a real, transparent character. He's open with his struggles, at least to himself, and willing to make a drastic change to find what's truly important in life. Anne perseveres through more than most people will have to deal with in a lifetime. The friendship that develops between Jamie and Anne is realistic and believable. The engaging storyline about the 'Riverdale Angel' adds depth. Although this is a Christian fiction novel, the faith element is a subtle, natural part of the story. The only drawback I found was the feeling of a tacked-on portion dealing with Jamie's manager Nick at the end - there seemed no point to this minor subplot, which drew me out of the main storyline.

As a whole, The Celebrity is a fun read that is sure to delight and entertain. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are frosting on the cake, adding to the enjoyment of a wonderful plot with memorable characters. Robert Elmer is an author to watch.

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