Smile For the Camera by: Kelle James

I think it’s about time for me to do another review! I don’t think I’ve done one in a while!

I recently read Kelle James memoir, Smile For The Camera. Smile for the Camera is about Kelle’s journey to fulfill her dreams of becoming a model. With just $100 dollars in her pocket, Kelle escapes from an abusive home, where she knows she won’t thrive, and moves to New York. Soon she realizes that it may not be so easy, and finds herself homeless in the Big Apple, surrounded by people who are trying to take advantage of her.

Smile For the Camera by Kelle James was a memoir, written from Kelle’s perspective. Her story is so interesting that sometimes it was hard to remember that this book is nonfiction. I think that this memoir had a whole lot of details in it, without being overly focused on every little detail. Kelle painted a gorgeous picture of her life. One specific scene that stood out to me was at the start of the chapter labeled “Teal is my Favorite Color”. In this chapter shows Kelle and Rayna trying to make the most of their rat infested apartment building. The chapter opens up with Kelle waiting for Rayna on the front steps so she doesn’t have to go up to the apartment alone. After a while of waiting, Kelle decides to go up herself and when she walks into her apartment, she sees Rayna singing and painting the walls teal.“I squeeze through the hingeless door. Rayna’s transistor radio is on. She’s singing “Staying Alive.” She’s got a read bandana on her head and a paintbrush in her hand.” (Page 158). I really loved the picture that this quote paints in my mind, and thought it was a good example of Rayna and Kelle’s relationship. Throughout all of the hardships that they face together, one of them always remembers to stay positive. In this case it was Rayna, but we see examples of Kelle staying optimistic through out the book as well.

Kelle formed some very strong relationships throughout this story and the book had strong character development. Within the first week of moving to New York, Kelle encounters a lot of people, but two specific people make a lasting impression on her. First, Kelle meets Rayna, who is also an aspiring model, and the almost instantly become friends. Then, Kelle meets Buddy, who is the first man she meets who doesn’t try to take advantage. Buddy becomes a father figure to her. Buddy is later charged, wrongly so in Kelle’s opinion, with the murder of his ex. girlfriend’s fiancé.

This book is filled with many of the trials and tribulations that Kelle faced. I’m going to rate this 4 1/2 stars out of 5. Even though I don’t usually find nonfiction endings satisfying, I thought that Kelle did a great job of wrapping up her book. I would recommend this book if you want a powerful read.

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