The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

In The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, his sophomore novel (after Kapitoil), Teddy Wayne gives voice to an 11-year-old phenomenon who understands the intricacies of marketing and image as well as any adult in the music industry. When it comes to the emotions he's experiencing as a preteen boy, though, he's lost and overwhelmed, simply looking for some kind of guidance.

Wayne's depiction of the awkward adolescent star is at turns funny, heart-breaking and eye-opening. From Jonny's staged "date" with a young female actress to his first hangover to his desperate search for a father he barely remembers, Wayne will likely stir a range of emotions in his readers, from tickled to mortified.

While The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is on its surface a look at what the industry does to a young child, it's also a look at the culture that created the industry, and the complex relationship between Jonny and his mother mirrors that theme. It is easy to criticize Jane for her actions, but looking below the surface to see the culture that created her is the greater challenge.

Jonny and his mother are joined by a diverse crew, each a well-drawn cog in the music system that plays out as Jonny's life. Ultimately, though, it's Jonny's voice--alluring and addictive--that Wayne delivers in perfect pitch, creating an earworm readers won't mind having stuck in their heads. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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