Smile for the Camera: A Memoir

Smile for the Camera: A Memoir

4.1 14
by Kelle James
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Kelle James ran away from an abusive home at the age of fifteen to the best place she could think of. New York City. She was going to be a model, rich, famous, and she was going to find people who treated her right. She had no idea what was in store for her and within three days she was homeless and broke. What follows is her exceptional story of trying to make it on

Overview

Kelle James ran away from an abusive home at the age of fifteen to the best place she could think of. New York City. She was going to be a model, rich, famous, and she was going to find people who treated her right. She had no idea what was in store for her and within three days she was homeless and broke. What follows is her exceptional story of trying to make it on her own with nothing to her name and no one to trust. She endures a string of people, mostly men, who take advantage of her youth and beauty, many disappointments and rejections, and the most famous murder trial of the 1970s. This is the story of a girl losing herself before finding her way in the city that never sleeps.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In 1978, James left her Maryland farm and abusive father to become a model in New York City. She lived at the Barbizon Hotel for Women for a few days and then was basically homeless. She and her scrappy, similarly aspiring friends squat in various unpleasant and unsafe places. She was hit on by all manner of disgusting men. James's writing is understated, even simplistic. She tells the story of her younger self as if she weren't very bright. The narrative flashes back to her childhood abuse so awkwardly there should be flashback theme music and a dissolving screen. James's depiction of the underbelly and excesses of pre-Guiliani New York is fascinating—she even saw children in cages at Studio 54. Unfortunately, that's the highpoint of the whole story. The action never engages. Life moved along slowly. Sure, things got worse then marginally better for the struggling model. And sure she had an abusive father. Both seem strangely diffuse, though—as if James holds the pain at arm's length. Lead interested girls to Jeannette Walls's excruciating and beautiful Glass Castle (Scribner, 2005) instead.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442406254
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
11/02/2010
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
652,454
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


He’s in my room. I know because I can smell his cigarette breath. I pull my leg under the covers and pretend that I’m asleep. Whenever I do that, I always make sure I move around a little. My brother Bob taught me that. He says sleeping people roll around, fakers don’t. I always listen to Bob. He’s my big brother.

I hear the whir and click of my fan as it moves from side to side on my nightstand. Every time it passes by, it pushes my father’s air at me. I can feel him on my skin. I’m glad my windows are open.

I open my eyes just a tiny bit. I peek out. I see him. He’s standing really close to my bed. A streetlamp shines behind him, through my window. The light flares around his dark form like a halo. He’s got his gun in his hand.

I can’t stand that gun.

I realize that I haven’t moved in a while, so I make a little moaning noise and drop my arm over the edge of the mattress. My brother will be impressed when I tell him what I’ve done.

While I lie there and wait till it’s time to move again, I try to imagine I’m surrounded by a powerful force field. If I do it right, it will keep bad things from getting to me. It’s hard for me to do, though. I’m not as good at it as Bob is. Anytime I tell him that, he says, “Keep working on it.”

Lately I’ve had lots of chances to practice.

I’m pretty sure I’ve waited long enough. I think it’s safe to move again. I stretch my arm down over the side of my bed and tuck my hand between the mattress and the box spring. I curl my fingers around the short metal rod I hid there. I found it with my brothers’ car stuff. It was the perfect size, so I cleaned it up and put it there, just in case.

Maybe I’m moving too much. I decide that I can’t move again for at least five minutes. I press my face into the mattress. I lie really still.

My father starts making little hiccup sounds with his throat.

He’s crying.

I’ve never heard him cry before.

The gun thing I’m used to. He does that for attention. But the crying has me worried.

I wish I could see his face, but it hasn’t been five minutes yet. I wonder, When it comes to armed and crying fathers, what’s better, steel rods or force fields? I go with the force field, the kind that sends bullets back where they came from. The harder I try, the louder my heart thumps. The sound fills my ears. I feel like I’m at the bottom of a really deep pool. My ears hurt, but I don’t stop. I’m not a quitter.

I look out from under my hair.

My father’s gone.

I roll over and stare up at the ceiling. I can’t do this anymore. I have to get away. I just need to figure out how.

© 2010 Kelle James

Meet the Author

Kelle James was a successful model. Her memoir is her first book.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Smile for the Camera 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
J-DJD More than 1 year ago
one of  my favourite books 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
W
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic! I'm hooked, its great memoir! Love the story, it is true!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
robin_titan More than 1 year ago
I found the story to be very interesting, but I could not get used to the author's writing. It just was not for me and had too slow a pace for me to love it. Either way, I still enjoyed learning about how fascinating it was for 16 year old Kelle to go from living with a dysfunctional family all the way to NYC and to realize her dream of modeling. For her, as well as the reader, things in NYC start off very slowly, but they gradually begin to pick up. I thought it was so nice that she met her friend Rayna. I loved her quite a lot and I HATED a few of the folks because they were horrible people. What makes the book even more compelling is that Kelle met a man that ends up going to jail. His name is Buddy and there's a little bit of a mystery in the book about him. Sadly, we don't get too much information on that, just like in real life. I think the thing I liked the most about this read was Kelle's attitude. She is quite the pistol and as she says, unfortunately, she was naive when this all occurred, thankfully that attitude and way of thinking seemed to come in handy. Of course I also adore that her dream came true! That is just ... so great! -T.V and Book Addict
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Smile for the Camera is a very good book. It's the kind of book you'll never want to put down. If I could rate this book I would give it a 10/10. The main character in this book is Kelle James. Kelle is a fifteen year old who runs away from home to go to New York City. Kelle thinks going to New York will be good for her, she is thinking she'll become famous, rich, and have it all; What she doesn't realize is a few weeks after she gets there she will be homeless and having people take advantage of her. Kelle has an abusive father so, most of the time she doesn't want to mess with anyone. She finds a best friend names Rayna, they both are in the same conditions; homeless, broke, an unemployed. Kelle is a very brave girl in this book, and in life because of all the people taking advantage of her. (Since she is the author.) She has to go through a good friend being charged with murder, being in a house with rats, and starving all at once. Things do get better as the book goes on but that is just something you will have to find out for yourself. So I suggest you buy this book and realize how much you'll love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago