Famous in Love


By Rebecca Serle

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The book that inspired the hit Freeform series, by the New York Times-bestselling author of In Five Years.

When Paige Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling film set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People‘s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life begins to resemble her character’s.

In this exciting tale of romance and drama, both on-and offscreen, Paige must adjust to a crazy new life without the daily support of her friends and family, while figuring out who she is–and who she wants–as the whole world watches.


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Table of Contents

A Sneak Peek of Truly Madly Famously

Copyright Page

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"You're famous, Patrick." Jake winks at me, and I roll my eyes. It's this running joke we've had since fifth grade, when I was in a production of The Three Stooges our school put on. I played the little boy, and for the rest of the year everyone referred to me as Patrick, which honestly isn't even that close to Paige, but whatever. Most people in my class weren't that creative.

I follow it up the same way I always have: "Hey, at least I'm known for something."

The truth is I've always been a little bit different. Like the button on a coat that doesn't line up with its hole. The youngest of four children, a native Portlander with serious seasonal affective disorder, I just… don't fit. Not in my family and not with my hometown. Sometimes not even with Jake, who for the last twenty minutes has been lecturing me about the serious health ramifications of consuming dairy. He's stopped only because there is a poster for my latest stage play up in the entryway of Powell's. We put it there last month. I'm surprised they haven't taken it down yet.

Jake and I have been superclose since we were in diapers, but we're polar opposites. He's quiet and intellectual and a real wizard—he's going to change the world someday. I am pretty talkative and do well in school, but I have to work hard at it. I've never had the natural talent Jake has for biology or chemistry. Or, to be fair, any other subject.

Except theater.

"Why do you still not have a proper head shot?" Cassandra says. She pulls on one of her pigtails and raises her eyebrows at me. She's tiny, but her personality is massive, as is her hair—a gigantic mess of blond curls that never seems to stay just on her head. It makes no sense that she's not the actress of our dynamic trio. She acts like she's constantly onstage. She did even when we were five years old, which is how long I've known her. But she wants to be a marine biologist.

"Jake said he'd take them," I say, staring at the flyer. There is no photo by my name, only a blank space. Paige Who. I asked Jake to take the pictures at least a month ago, but he's had sit-ins almost every weekend.

Jake is always protesting stuff. Plastic, buildings, the cutting down of trees, popcorn. The stuff at the movie theater is genetically engineered. We lost a week of our lives to those kernels.

Cassandra gives Jake a pitying look and turns to me. "If your career is in his hands, you're going to end up in waste management." Jake tries to interrupt, but Cassandra keeps talking. "The point is, I'll do them." She swings her purse around and takes something out. "I got a new camera."

"No way." Jake bounces it out of her hands, and Cassandra squeals. "How did you pull this off?" he asks.

"Babysitting," she says proudly.

"Nice. We should take some shots at the rally next week. I bet if we get good ones we could submit them to the paper."

"Another rally?" I ask. I try to keep the disappointment out of my voice, but I'm not working that hard.

Jake looks at me with that somber expression I know too well. "They will stop when pollution stops, when animals are treated kindly. When human beings start taking responsibility for themselves and this planet."

"Sorry," I mumble.

I always feel bad about not supporting Jake in his latest quest. I mean, I want the world to be a better place, too. It's just that sometimes I also want to go to the movies.

Cassandra slides her arm around my shoulder and turns me back to the board. "Maybe the Aladdin is playing something good this weekend."

We scan the flyers, but I'm only halfheartedly looking. I'm watching Jake fiddle with Cassandra's camera. I haven't seen him this excited about anything since Starbucks started using biodegradable materials.

"Oh my God!" Cassandra shrieks, and my hands fly to my ears. Jake almost drops the camera.

"What is with you?" he asks her.

"Look look look!" She's pointing at the board. "Are you seeing this?"

I follow her finger. It's a flyer for Locked, the book Cassandra is obsessed with. Well, three books, actually. It's a trilogy, but only two have been released so far. They're huge. Crazy, international best sellers. They're written by a woman named Parker Witter, about this girl who lands on a magical deserted island after a plane crash. The boy who survives with her (who happens to be her boyfriend's best friend) has some kind of supernatural connection to the island, and they fall in love. But she's also still in love with her boyfriend, who she thinks is dead, since all three of them were on the plane together. I haven't read the books yet, but I did do a little Googling after Cassandra wouldn't shut up about them. The stuff that exists online is intense. Hundreds of thousands of videos on YouTube, community boards, endless fan fiction. Noah and August are the new Romeo and Juliet, apparently. Cassandra waited in line at Barnes & Noble at midnight the day the second one went on sale. The third and final book is supposed to come out in November.

"They're holding auditions here!" Cassandra squeals. She dances around on her tiptoes in a semicircle.

I squint at the flyer.

"Auditions for what?" Jake says, handing her back the camera.

"The movie."

My stomach does a little flip, in time with Cassandra's feet, and I look up to see her smirking at me. "Interested now?"

Even though we're in Portland, a city that draws a big artistic crowd, movies are rarely shot here, and casting directors never come looking for talent. Movie auditions are for people who live in Los Angeles—and I've never even been there.

I've begged my parents to let me go to California, but they always say it's a distraction from my studies. What they really mean is that I'm the youngest of four and as far as they're concerned a plane ticket without a direct link to a wedding or funeral just isn't practical.

That doesn't mean I don't go on auditions here; I do, but it's mostly for community theater stuff, like the non-head-shot poster we were looking at. But a real film? I've never had that opportunity before.

When I do get things—a play or a local commercial or something—I'm pretty much always cast as a child, even though I'm seventeen. I feel like I've been playing the same role for a decade. I'm barely five feet tall, which is short even for twelve-year-olds. I have long, true-red hair that is just a little bit wavy—not totally curly, not straight—and my face is spotted with freckles, which doesn't exactly scream leading lady. But the rug rat younger sister? I have that one down. I wonder if there's a sibling in Locked.

"Where is it?" I ask. I glance down to show that I don't really care, but since it's Jake and Cassandra, no one is buying the attempted nonchalance.

"Saturday at the Aladdin." Jake rips the flyer down and hands it to me.

"Someone else might want to see that," I say.

"So consider it lessening the competition." Cassandra loops her arm through mine. "Promise you'll think about it."

She smiles at me, and I know she knows I'll be there. But she's also aware of my golden rule about auditions: I never tell anyone I'm going.

Maybe it's something about being the youngest in a big family, but I expect disappointment. The unspoken motto of our house: If you stay closer to the ground, you have less distance to fall. It worked for my parents, I guess. They're both elementary school teachers, which is a great thing in and of itself, but I don't think it's what either of them actually wanted. My mom wanted to be an actress. She was in a few regional productions when she was younger, but nothing since my oldest brother was born. She never talks about it, but I know she has regrets. One time I was looking for a necklace in her jewelry box and came across this envelope filled with theater tickets. Plays and shows my mom had gone to. There were even ones from the seventies in there, back when my parents weren't together yet. Maybe from things she was in. I'm not sure you would hold on to that stuff if you didn't wish your life had turned out a little differently. And me? I don't want a bunch of theater tickets stuffed into an envelope at the bottom of my jewelry box. I want framed posters with my name on them. Those are the kinds of reminders I want. The ones other people can see.

Jake slings his arm over my shoulder. "You'd be an amazing August," he tells me.

"August?" I cock one eyebrow at him.

"What?" he says, his droopy smile growing. "I like to stay informed of pop culture."

"You can't even believe how good it is," Cassandra says, threading her fingers through one of her looped curls. "I have no idea how I'm waiting until November to find out how it all ends."

Jake nods.

"Seriously?" I say. "You two need to start a support group."

"I'm already in one," Cassandra says. "We meet on Sundays. Tuesdays if it's been a particularly bad week of withdrawal."

Jake laughs; I roll my eyes. "You're crazy."

"But you love me," she coos, her nose pressed up against my cheek.

"In spite of," I say.

"Hey," she says, pulling back. "These are great pieces of literature."

"That's what you said about From Heaven. And those books were just about horny angels."

"Guardian angels," Cassandra corrects, tossing a pigtail over her shoulder. "It's not my fault you don't appreciate great novels."

"I appreciate them," I say.

"Just because you've read The Glass Menagerie seventy-two times doesn't make it a book. Sorry." Cassandra wrinkles her nose at me.

"Yeah, but it's still a great work of literature," I snap back.

It's not that I don't read novels. I do, just not in the same way I read screenplays. I mean, I love Jane Austen and I've probably read The Catcher in the Rye about seven times since eighth grade, but most of what I read are scripts. I've read pretty much every one Powell's has ever stocked, which is a lot. They have everything from Rosemary's Baby to Pitch Perfect, and I like to sit there on rainy Sundays and pick up whatever shooting scripts they've just got in. Some of them I even know by heart, and folding the first page back is kind of like hearing the first few notes of your favorite song on the radio. The one you know all the words to. When I was younger I used to recite lines in front of my bedroom mirror. Scarlett O'Hara, Holly Golightly. I'd pretend I was Audrey Hepburn or Meryl Streep and I was making a movie the world would see.

Sometimes I still do.

"What do you guys want to do this afternoon?" Cassandra asks.

I glance at my watch, a gift from Jake for my fifteenth birthday. It has Mickey Mouse on the face, and his gloved hands mark the hour and minute. Jake had it engraved: From the cat to the mouse. They used to be our Halloween costumes every year. He'd dress up as a cat and I'd be a mouse, and he'd chase me all over the streets when we went out trick-or-treating. Sometimes I imagine us getting together, later, and it taking on a new meaning. Him saying something like, "I chased you for years, and now you're finally mine." Silly, I know, but it would be a great story.

For the record, we've kissed twice but not since freshman year. Jake was my first kiss, actually, and the only guy I've ever touched lips to except for this one kid at summer camp. We're not together, though. We never have been. I don't think either one of us is willing to risk our friendship over it—and besides, the thought of actually making him my boyfriend feels like an equation that just doesn't add up.

"I have to get to work," I say. I've spent every summer since seventh grade working at Trinkets n' Things, a boutique that sells all kinds of knickknacks and, like the rest of Portland, smells like patchouli. I come home reeking of incense, but it's a good gig. The pay is decent, and it never gets too crowded.

"Any interest in seeing a movie?" Cassandra nudges Jake, and he drops his arm from around my shoulder.

"Just not that documentary about Buddhism again, okay? We've seen it three times now."

"Whatever. You're the one who wanted to see it the third time." She blinks at me, and I know it's supposed to be a wink. She can never figure out how to close one eye at a time. It's one of the things I love most about her.

I mean, there are a lot of things I love. Like that she doesn't know how to hopscotch and her favorite colors are always ones she makes up: honeyberry, cricket green, clown-nose red. I love that she always used to tell me when I had something stuck in my braces. She's honest. We have no secrets. We never have.

"Have fun, kids," I say.

Jake gives me a little salute, Cassandra plants a wet kiss on my cheek, and the two of them dart toward the exit. I stare at the crumpled poster in my hand and then shove it into my pocket, following their trail outside and down to Trinkets n' Things. I don't need to look at the audition details; I've already memorized them. I also know I'll make up an excuse to my boss, Laurie, and go on Saturday. The flyer says the auditions begin at three, but I'm certain people will be lining up hours before.

I know there's no chance. I know that the odds of actually landing a role like this are one in a number I can't even count to, but the same thing happens every time I go out for a part. I feel a little… hopeful. Like this time might be the time things change. Like after this weekend, everything might be different.


I can hear my niece, Annabelle, crying as soon as I walk in the door. I don't know what it is about that kid, but she's always bawling. Her sheer unwillingness to be ignored is actually kind of impressive. She's not even two yet, but it's like she already knows that in order to make it in this house she's going to have to announce herself, and if she knows that much, she's way ahead of the game.

"Anyone home?" I drop my bookbag down on a stool in our kitchen.

"Paye!" Annabelle yells.

My sister, Joanna, comes running down the stairs, Annabelle tucked underneath her arm like a football. "Have you seen Mom?" Joanna asks. Her face is red, and her hair looks damp.

"No, just got home." I turn my head upside down and look at Annabelle. "Hey, you."

Annabelle puts on this goofy grin and reaches out her tiny, chubby arms. I swing her out of Joanna's arms and into mine.

My sister seems to crumble as soon as I take Annabelle, her shoulders sagging down by her collapsed sides.

"What's up, Jo? You okay?"

"Okay!" Annabelle parrots.

My sister and I are the two siblings left in the house. Both of our older brothers have moved out. There is talk of Bill, my sister's boyfriend and Annabelle's father, moving in, but he recently started community college and his parents' house is closer to school. His family won't let Joanna move in with them, so for now he visits her and Annabelle on the weekends. Here's a fun fact: When you're nineteen and have a kid and no money, your parents control a lot more than you'd like them to.

My sister ignores the question and looks me up and down. "Where have you been?"

Ever since she got pregnant, Joanna has considered herself to be totally grown up. She had this huge belly at her high school graduation, and yet she was instructing me on how to clean my room and how not to come home after curfew. As if becoming a mom made her my mom, too.

I shrug. "Trinkets n' Things."

She eyes me. "What were you doing?"

"Selling drugs out the back door."

Joanna rolls her eyes and flops onto the couch. "Mom was supposed to come home an hour ago."

"I'm not sure what to tell you." I rub my hand in small circles over Annabelle's back, but she just blinks a few times and then starts crying again. Joanna picks herself up off the couch and snatches Annabelle out of my hands.

Joanna sighs. "Look, just tell Mom I left."

She hooks her bag over her arm, shifts Annabelle, and heads out the door. Annabelle waves as they go, her hand like a duck beak, a tear rolling down her cheek.

After they leave, the house is dead silent. The quiet feels strange to me. When I was growing up, our house was filled with kids, and the older I got, the more people were around. My brothers always had friends over, and by the time I got to fifth grade, Joanna was already attached to Bill.

I hoist my bag on my shoulder and plod my way upstairs. Once I'm in my room, I take the flyer out of my pocket, smooth the edges down flat on the carpet, and look at it.

There is a black-and-white picture of a girl on the front, but she's in silhouette, so it's hard to make out any details about who she is or what she looks like. Printed across the top of the page are the words OPEN CASTING CALL FOR LOCKED. They give me goose bumps. It's the same feeling I get in an auditorium or a movie theater right when the lights go down. Like maybe that could be me up there. That someday people might know my name, even recognize me. That I wouldn't be little Paige, the runt of the Townsen litter. I'd just be Paige Townsen: the one and only. That feeling of possibility. Of the fact that right here and right now, everything could change.

The odds of my getting this part are practically nonexistent, I know that, but still, someone has to. Why not me?

My cell phone lights up. It's Cassandra. She's talking even before I say hello.

"… I think I fell asleep halfway through."

"The movie?"

She huffs, like duh. "What are you doing tonight?"

I fold the flyer over in my hands, embarrassed to even be holding it. What I'm doing is practicing. What I'm doing is reading that book cover to cover.

"I'm kind of tired," I say.

"Laurie make you stock shelves?"

"Yes," I lie. The truth is I did nothing but play thumb war with myself behind the register. We had only two customers come in today, and neither one bought anything.

"Jake is here," Cassandra says. I hear some rustling and whispering, and then she comes back on the phone. "Maybe we'll stop by later?"

I picture Jake turning down the cell. He's petrified of radiation and refuses to even carry one, which makes meeting up kind of difficult. Luckily he's usually with one of us already.

"Sounds good," I say.

Jake shouts good-bye—Cassandra must have held the phone out—and then it clicks off.

I hear my dad's car pull into the driveway. I don't have to look out my window to know he's opening the car door, walking around the back to get his briefcase, checking both car mirrors, then the tires, then clicking the lock twice, and walking in the door. He does the same routine every day and has been probably since he could drive. I imagine my dad going through the whole thing when they pulled into the hospital on the nights my siblings and I were born. Did my mom yell? In all my years of seeing my dad's parking regimen, I've never once heard her try to hurry him up.

I walk out onto the landing and see him come in. My dad wears a bow tie every day. He even has some of those tweed jackets with the elbow patches on them.

"You look like a teacher," I tell him.

He looks up and smiles. "Funny you should say that. I just came from school."

"It's summer vacation," I say, making my way downstairs, "haven't you heard?"

"Curriculums rest for no man."

My dad is the only member of my family who gets me. He's also the quietest person I know. I never realized he was a morning person until I joined the swim team sophomore year and had to wake up early for practice. I came downstairs one morning at five AM to find him sipping from a coffee cup. He was so still the air around him could have been water and he wouldn't even have made a ripple.

He smiles at me when I reach the last step. "Where's your sister?"

I try to remember where she said she was going. I shrug and follow him into the kitchen. "Dunno."

Unlike the rest of my family, my dad doesn't discourage my acting ambitions. My sister thinks I'm too self-involved; my brothers don't understand it because it's not a team sport. My mom thinks acting is best reserved for daydreams and the occasional community production, not for "real life."

My dad, though. My dad has never told me outright what he thinks, but I feel his support. I've often heard him say that parenting is like a building. One person has to be the height; the other, the foundation. My dad isn't a tall man, but he's a solid one. With four children, if you're the base, you're pretty well cemented in there.

He gives me a little nod and heads into his bedroom. He'll spend the afternoon fixing whatever is broken around the house. He does all the upkeep himself, always has.

I crane my neck to make sure my sister isn't pulling into the driveway, and then go to her bookshelf and run my hand across the spines until I find her copy of Locked. I don't know why I'm being so sneaky about it. It's not like she wouldn't let me borrow it or anything. It's just that I feel like if she saw me she'd somehow know. She'd put it together and then when I didn't get the part it would be further confirmation that my dreams are stupid and shallow and totally unrealistic. I don't really need any more of that in our house. And yet—

What would you sacrifice for love?

The one line, printed across the top of the back cover, makes my heart speed up to a sprint. I take it to my room and close the door. I pull the flyer out from underneath my bed and hold them both in my hands. The girl on the book cover has her back turned, but unlike on the flyer, you can tell her hair is red. It tumbles down her back and looks like it runs right into the waves of the ocean. They surround her, about to swallow her whole.

I open to the first page, and then I start to read.


Saturday goes by absurdly slowly. There are even fewer people in Trinkets n' Things than there were during the week, and Laurie has decided to take the day to lead an aromatherapy workshop in the back room. I wonder if anyone has ever died from a sandalwood overdose.

I finished the first book yesterday morning—read it straight through in one sitting. And the truth is I get why Cassandra hasn't been able to stop talking about the romance, and why it seems the entire world hasn't put the books down. They're phenomenal. And the love story is just so, so good. It's the ultimate fantasy. August and Noah, her longtime crush and boyfriend's best friend, are the only surviving members of a plane crash that had her boyfriend and younger sister on board. They learn Noah is a descendant of the island and its people—a position that comes with power. The power to heal August after she's almost killed by the crash and—I won't ruin it for you. Let's just say love isn't easy, even when you're the sole survivors of a plane crash and you have the hots for each other.

I jump back in and make it halfway through the second book before asking Laurie if I can head out a little early. She says yes, of course. Actually what she says is, "It's Saturday. No one comes in on Saturday."

I close the door to the back room behind me and loop the keys around the hook by the tarot card shelf. I grab my bag from behind the counter, and as I'm leaning down I catch a reflection of myself in the mirror—my hair whipped around my face, my cheeks flushed and red. For just a moment, I don't recognize myself. I could be anyone. Even August.

Droves of girls are wandering around when I get there. It's not surprising, but the sight is pretty spectacular. There must be a thousand people outside the Aladdin. The last time I saw this many people in one place was when my brother took me to a Muse concert freshman year. We don't really spend a lot of time together. My brothers and I, I mean. There was a period when my sister was kind of close with them, but I think by the time I came around the novelty of having a sister had long worn off. I remember being really surprised Jeff would want me to go. It turned out, once we got there, that he just wanted me to watch the car, because free parking was really hard to come by. "You can sit here and listen to the music," he said. I didn't even say anything, totally afraid I'd burst right into tears, and afterward, when he dropped me off at home and my mom asked me how it was, I lied and said great. Telling her the truth somehow seemed too humiliating.

I work my way inside the audition space. There seem to be two lines. One for people who have registered and one for people who haven't. The nonregistered line is way, way shorter. The majority of people, unlike myself, have prepared for this. Everyone else already has their forms, and they are filling them out on clipboards. They're sitting in chairs, lining the floor, leaning against the walls.

Most of the girls are with their mothers, and for a slight second I feel a wave of familiar sadness. My mom and I have gone to exactly two auditions together. The first was for a cereal commercial when I was seven. I remember I saw the flyer in the grocery store and begged her to take me. She didn't want to, but eventually my father convinced her it wasn't a terrible idea, and maybe I'd make a little money in the process. I got all dressed up in my best dress and the shoes my mom had bought me for Christmas that year, and we went, hand in hand.

We didn't even make it into the audition, though. My mom took one look at the other girls and decided we weren't going to "play," as she put it. "It's a beauty pageant," she'd said. "There is absolutely no way we're participating."

I've always gone to auditions alone, and in secret. She supports school-and theater-related projects, mostly because she thinks they are somehow "academic," but anything with film she's been against pretty much from the beginning.

I make my way to the reception desk, where a woman with a smile like a line hands me a sheet of paper. I take the form and fill it out on the edge of the table, careful to hand it back to her with a smile. She gives me a number in return and waves me off. There are no seats available, so I lean on the wall and put in my headphones.

For my birthday this spring, Jake made me audio recordings of all my favorite films. He even put them on my iPod. I can listen to Empire Records while I'm biking home from school or walking to work.

Today I choose a recording of Singin' in the Rain


  • Praise for Famous in Love:

    "Rebecca Serle completely captured what it's like to be a part of Young Hollywood. I absolutely loved Famous in Love. A must-read for anyone curious about life and love behind the scenes."—Bella Thorne, actor and author of Autumn Falls
  • "The first-person, present-tense narration highlights Paige's internal conflict, with step-by-step descriptions of swoony kisses for romance-loving readers. This frothy but not frivolous drama is wish fulfillment for any teen who wants to feel the thrill of celebrity and love."

    Kirkus Reviews

  • "Serle establishes a glamorous premise in a gorgeous setting, as well as an enticing romance-within-a-romance framework."—Publishers Weekly

  • "Famous in Love is so fun, fresh, and delectable, I'm hooked. More, please. And soon."

    National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti, author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

  • "Fantasy becomes reality in this exhilarating love story you won't want to put down."

    Susane Colasanti, bestselling author of When It Happens

  • "With just the right mix of celebrity fantasy and real-girl relatability, this clever Hollywood romance packs more plot twists than the book-to-film blockbusters that inspired it."—Megan McCafferty, bestselling author of Sloppy Firsts

  • "I could not put down this book! Loved, loved, loved it. So much romance, so much Hollywood gossip, so much fun."

    Sarah Mlynowski, bestselling author of Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)

On Sale
Oct 21, 2014
Page Count
336 pages

Rebecca Serle

About the Author

Rebecca Serle is the author of Famous in Love, When You Were Mine, and The Edge of Falling and is an obsessive lover of all things pop culture. She grew up in Maui and Los Angeles, and now lives in Manhattan.

Learn more about this author