The Love Song of Jonny ValentineHardback Free Press
- Publisher: Free Press
- Format: Hardback | 285 pages
- Dimensions: 157mm x 231mm x 30mm | 454g
- Publication date: 1 May 2013
- ISBN 10: 1476705852
- ISBN 13: 9781476705859
- Edition: 1
- Sales rank: 575,728
When Whiting Writers' Award winner Teddy Wayne published his critically acclaimed debut, "Kapitoil," it was hailed as "one of the best novels of [this] generation" by the "Boston Globe" and was shortlisted for a spate of national prizes. Jonathan Franzen wrote in "The Daily Beast" that "no other writer, as far as I know, has invented such a funny and compelling voice and story for [this type of character.]" Now, in "The Love Song of Jonny Valentine," Wayne turns his sharp wit, flawless narrative ventriloquism, and humane sensibility to our monstrous obsession with fame. Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum pop, knows that the fans don't love him for who he is. The talented singer's image, voice, and even hairdo have been relentlessly packaged--by his L.A. label and his hard-partying manager-mother, Jane--into bite-size pabulum. But within the marketing machine, somewhere, Jonny is still a vulnerable little boy, perplexed by his budding sexuality and his heartthrob status, dependent on Jane, and endlessly searching for his absent father in Internet fan sites, lonely emails, and the crowds of faceless fans. Poignant, brilliant, and viciously funny, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators, this literary masterpiece explores with devastating insight and empathy the underbelly of success in 21st-century America. "The Love Song of Jonny Valentine "is a tour de force by a standout voice of his generation.
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By Stephanie 17 Jan 2013
Being a kid on the verge of puberty is hard enough, but for Jonny Valentine it's only the tip of the iceberg.
Jonny is a pop star at the ripe old age of eleven. Having grown up in the spotlight, Jonny never got to experience things normal kids do. With every second of his life planned out, Jonny doesn't even have time for fun, let alone friends or school.
Sheltered by his psychotic 'momager' Jane, Jonny doesn't even know what became of his absentee father... until the day he logs onto his mom's computer and finds a message from his dad on every fan site. But is it really him? As Jonny begins a mission to reconnect with his dad, he'll discover just how far he'll have to go to maintain his fame and his career.
This book was heartbreaking. Jonny is probably one of my favourite narrators of all time - his mix of innocence, cynicism, and humour will soften event he hardest of hearts. Growing up in showbiz has taken everything from Jonny, but he still manages to put on a show. Jane was reminiscent of those crazy pageant moms you see on T.V. - so obsessed with being the best that she ignores what is happening to her child and forgets to treat him like a real person.
Wayne's commentary on the way we treat our celebrities - especially child stars - resonates with the reader.
"We always want to have as much control as possible over my image, but the Lisa Pinto exposure made sense from a packaging-strategy perspective, since even if it was driving off some of the fat girls, it would bring in more of the pretty girls, and if they liked me then the fat girls would like me more to try to be like the pretty girls, plus the pretty girls would bring their boyfriends to my concerts, which effectively doubled gate receipts and they also had to buy them crap merch to make them happy, but the fat girls didn't have boyfriends. They had to buy the crap merch for themselves to feel happier. But Jane says we're in the business of making fat girls feel like they're pretty for a few hours and that most pretty girls are afraid other people think they're fat anyway, so maybe it's all the same."
Jonny has been made into the perfect product by his team, and you can see the way it morphs his thoughts.
The theme of slavery works perfectly with the novel, as Jonny is what we come to see as a slave to the masses and his celebrity itself. And as he fumbles through his first teenage experiences, we see just how much of a tole growing up as a pop star has had on Jonny.
Wayne has written an honest and unflinching account of child stardom. I recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for a great read.
"It would be easy to simply satirize the life and times of an 11-year-old pop star. But while Wayne does riff on America's obsessions with youth, celebrity and weight, among other things, he chooses to take his hero seriously....If Justin Bieber provides the book's cultural context, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" gives it its soul.... [An] entertaining novel about the pop-celebrity-Internet air we all breathe, even if we don't want to inhale."