The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne(4 out of 5)
All of the reviews liken Jonny Valentine to Justin Bieber. Parts of that- I could agree with. Except that I didn’t hate this book, and I hate Justin Bieber. I should state that right away.
Jonny’s an 11-yrs old kid who’s on top of the pop world(even if the new album isn’t charting that well, he can still sell out stadiums and make girls everywhere squeal in barely-contained glee). He’s managed by his tough-as-nails and easy-to-nail mom Jane, who reminds me a lot of Dina Lohan with the humanity of Kris Jenner. Meaning I didn’t like Jane at all. There are a number of supporting characters who are sympathetic to Jonny’s fishbowl existence- Rog, the gay dancer, Nadine, who plays psychotherapist/homeschooling teacher(it’s never completely established what her actual role is), and Wayne, the bodyguard, who tries to imbue Jonny with a sense of optimistic realism. The ever looming ghost in this piece is Jonny’s long-absentee father, who he scours message boards in an attempt to connect and discover his whereabouts(that’s another storyline here). Jonny is a jaded industry professional, who likes nothing more than to play the game of Zenon, which you gather, is similiar to World of Warcraft, and meet his dad. He’s a little kid trapped in the silver metallic music industry, that his mom is loath to let him escape from, even making him weigh in and exercise if he puts on weight.
A novel like this- really makes you think. I finished it at 6:30pm, and three hours later, I’m still sitting here trying to get it out of my head. It disturbed me on a high level, because you know and have seen from the tragedy of child musical stars(Michael Jackson comes to mind) who are tremendously talented, yet due to their sensitive natures, don’t always have a happy and fulfilling life ahead of them. You feel like there’s hope for Jonny by the end of the novel, but that’s shells on the shore once you see what it takes out of the kid. The novel made me deeply sad for what those poor kids go through. It was an incredibly quick read, and Jonny is a great character. Teddy Wayne deserved the accolades and awards he has won for this, as he writes with great insight, making you wonder if he was a child star or perhaps knew someone who was. I would warn you that it’s one of those books that stays with you long past your completion of it.