Wednesday, August 06, 2014


The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, Teddy Wayne, Free Press, 2013, 304 pp

Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be pop stars. Unless perhaps you can be their manager. Jonny Valentine is 11 going on 12. He is in the second year of mega-fame as a tween pop idol. Think Justin Bieber. His single mother, abandoned by his father when he was a toddler, is his manager. For an unreliable narrator, he is pretty savvy, but there are some things an 11-year-old boy just can't figure out.

I read the book because of my long and ambivalent relationship with the music business. It's a manual on how pop stars are created and maintained. It also translates those stories we all pretend we don't read in People Magazine and the tabloids into what really goes on when two stars go on a date or end a romantic relationship, get a bad concert review, etc.

The book is wildly entertaining even while it breaks your heart every time you remember that Jonny is still shy of his 12th birthday. As we follow him on a multiple city tour and learn how he has to sneak around to even send an email, how lonely he is, how little choice he has over what he eats, and on and on.

If you want to maintain your illusions about celebrity in the 21st century, do NOT read this book. I think it belongs in an indestructible box of books we can save and all read after the apocalypse, as we rub our heads and say, "What were we thinking?"

(The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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