Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne
AKA Sympathy for the Bieber
I was attracted to this book for one simple reason: the cover is really shiny. Then, I took this book because it sounded interesting. After purchasing some concert tickets recently, I received a free subscription to Rolling Stone. Soon after, this issue arrived in the mail. At first, I was horrified. Then, the opportunity to learn about Bieber proved too much to resist. I have a strange fascination with what kids these days are into, so I'm always jumping at the chance to find out about One Direction (Adorable!), Wizards of Waverly Place (Actually pretty cute), and what have you. That article was really interesting, and it did make me a bit more thoughtful about the Biebs. The whole "swag" thing not withstanding, because that is unforgivable. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but a lot of that article makes Bieber sound a little special needs, or like some sort of entitled toddler.
An interesting quote in the article: "No one's ever grown up like Justin Bieber...Ever, in the history of humanity."
No one except countless child stars throughout history, and now Jonny Valentine.
Jonny is an almost-12-year-old music star. He was discovered on Youtube at the age of 9. His debut album was a huge success. Now, his second album has dwindling sales, and his cross-country tour hasn't been selling as expected. Jonny, despite his young age, is very knowledgeable about his image and all the work he has to put into maintaining it. So, he mostly eats healthy food, or does lots of cardio whenever he cheats. He'll give those vague answers about how he loves all girls so that he doesn't alienate chubby girls from his fan base. He knows all about marketing himself, mostly thanks to his manager/mother Jane. It's part impressive and part sad how savvy Jonny is. About the only normal thing about him is his obsession with video games and masturbating (Which, I really didn't need to hear about. It's bad enough that I have to know that Beliebers have a nickname for his penis. It's enough to make me stab knitting needles into my ears).
The main conflict occurs when Jonny finds a letter from his father seeking visitation. Jonny has never even met his father, but he finds messages from someone claiming to be him on a fan website. He decides to write back, though it's difficult because he isn't even allowed to use the internet without supervision. Lesser conflicts involve a staged romance with rising starlet Lisa Pinto, a friendship with the indie band opening for his concerts, and the difficulties of singing in a flying mechanical heart (That may end up dropping you to your death). Also, there is the big decision of whether to record a new album and keep touring next year or attend school like a normal kid.
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine ended up being very good. I felt the necessary feels about how Jonny's life is both very good and very bad. It makes you take a second look at child stardom and fame, makes you question whether everything is just prepackaged advertising. Finally, here is an article that includes clips of Jonny's hit single, Guys vs. Girls. Just as a little treat to end the review.
Free Press sent a copy of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine to my bookstore. Thank you, and I hope you still consider B&N store 2298 when you have any ARCs you are looking to distribute.