Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Love Song for Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne

by:  Teddy Wayne
published by:  Free Press
publish date:  February 5, 2013

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.
This book was the funniest and at the same time the saddest book I've read this year.  It made me really sad for child pop stars.  However, Teddy Wayne did a brilliant job presenting such an  awful lifestyle in a humorous way.

You could take out the name Jonny Valentine and stick in Justin Beiber and you'd probably have a fairly accurate picture.  Jonny Valentine was discovered from YouTube videos and went from nobody to superstar in like a month.  His overly controlling mother/manager has every aspect of his life polished and packaged.  Jonny lives in terror of chub and child predators and never knowing his father.   Despite all their careful training, Jonny's career is on the downslide and his mother is getting desperate.  Her crazy antics are threatening to bring down the whole show.

Throughout the entire book Jonny is terrified of child predators, even though his best friend is his body guard.  This book kinda made me feel like a child predator at times.  The extensive descriptions of Jonny's sexual explorations were a little icky considering he was an 11 year old boy.  However, I suppose that's a natural part of growing up. 

My favorite part of the book and I guess the part that made Jonny a real boy was his obsession with the video game Zenon.  He played it for relaxation before and after his concerts.  His ability to relate the game to all other aspects of his life was an endearing quality.

I would definitely recommend this book, but I suspect the group of people that would get this book is rather small.  While it's about an 11 year old boy, it's an adult book.  I'm really curious to hear what other people thought about this book.

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