I meant to post this over the weekend but was actually really busy! We’ve been apartment hunting (sucks) and just in general getting ready for our road trip to Aspen soon. Over the weekend I attended a friend’s baby shower and had my obligatory biennial four-hour clothes shopping trip (ugh—I am not a shopper!)… finally getting around to this review now.
I won a free copy of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne from Jen at The Relentless Reader in one of her giveaways a few months back. I got it in the mail right around the time we were packing up everything to move, so I didn’t end up reading it until last week, when Jen had another giveaway which reminded me about this one, and I decided to dig it out of our boxes. So glad I won this and read it; thank you, Jen!
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a novel told from the perspective of eleven-year-old Jonny, a bubblegum pop sensation on tour for his sophomore album. Despite his ultra-tight PR packaging by his record label and mother-manager Jane, Jonny is still a vulnerable boy with a vivid imagination, discovering feelings for girls and his budding puberty, confused and dismayed by adult behavior, and realizing how fickle and cruel fame can be.
It is pretty obvious whom the characters in Jonny Valentine are based upon—a self-destructive mother-manager, a pretween boy singer with a signature hairstyle, etc. I was astounded by Jonny’s maturity sometimes, though his young age does show through in his obsession with video games, and you can tell many things he says he is just repeating and may not entirely understand them. His mother and handlers obviously care for him, but are still overprotective and strict. Every move Jonny makes is calculated, his weight and food intake is meticulously monitored, façade romances are contrived for publicity’s sake, his computer time is censored and limited. I was really sad for Jonny throughout the whole book, but pulling for him. His corrupted innocence is heartbreaking.
This is a fascinating, thought-provoking, and original exposition on celebrity worship in our media-driven culture in the twenty-first century, especially of talented children. Also, the cover was super shiny!
Read from May 28 to June 4, 2013.