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The Love Song of Jonny Valentine: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476705852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476705859
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Playlist for The Love Song Of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne

Teddy Wayne

The pop music in The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is, by 11-year-old singer Jonny’s own admission, utterly disposable. It’s a mainstream product that goes in one ear and out the other, but not before separating the listener from her money. Yet he dreams of creating art that is timeless, along the lines of his idol, Michael Jackson (especially “Billie Jean”). And though my own musical taste runs counter to Top-40 aesthetics, I, too, have a soft spot for catchy, hook-driven pop.

The contemporary landscape of dance-pop shares some attributes with the crooners of the 1950s and early ’60s, but has its strongest roots in synthesizer-heavy pop from the ’80s. That also happens to be the music I grew up with. Here are 17 songs from the decade, some iconic, some lesser-known. All remain, to me, listenable and danceable after all these years. In other words: timeless.

1. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson

2. (I'm a) TV Savage by Bow Wow Wow

3. 88 Lines About 44 Women by The Nails

4. Kiss by Prince

5. I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany

6. Take on Me by A-ha

7. She Drives Me Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals

8. Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade

9. Turning Japanese by The Vapors

10. Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles

11. Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo

12. Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves

13. Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

14. Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

15. Material Girl by Madonna

16. 99 Red Balloons by Nena

17. Kids in America by Kim Wilde

From Booklist

Called the “angel of pop,” 11-year-old megastar Jonny Valentine has everything but a father . . . and a childhood. Wayne’s novel follows the preadolescent’s national tour as he wows his tween fans (and the occasional adult predator) while secretly searching the Internet for his absent father, whom he hasn’t seen since he was 5 or 6. In the meantime, his hard-partying mother, who doubles as his manager, is trying to ensure that the young star’s career doesn’t go into eclipse. As for Jonny—discovered, like Justin Bieber, on YouTube—he’s 11 going on 30, still a child who loves playing his favorite video game but also one who speaks with adult savvy about the music industry, talking glibly about “rotation stamina,” “performance protocol,” “packaging-strategy perspective,” “MJ” (Michael Jackson), and the like. Wayne’s second novel is both a cautionary tale and an insider’s look at some of the less salutary aspects of the music industry. Pop-music aficionados will be delighted. --Michael Cart

More About the Author

Teddy Wayne is the author of the novels "The Love Song of Jonny Valentine" (Free Press, 2013) and "Kapitoil" (Harper Perennial, 2010). He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize runner-up, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. A graduate of Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis, he lives in New York. Visit his website at www.teddywayne.com.

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Customer Reviews

Loved this book...the main character is so compelling and well done...fast read, couldn't put it down by the end.
Dan Svirsky
I had a really hard time deciding how I felt about this book; I thought it was absolutely entertaining, but I thought there was something maybe missing.
Book Dork
Jonny tells the story in the first person,and he writes in a dead-on voice, capturing a precocious yet naieve outlook.
A. Demling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Boyd on February 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Almost 100 years after T.S. Eliot's "Love Song" was published, Teddy Wayne presents us with a 21st-century prototypical, postmodern man/boy: an 11-year-old pop singer smothered by the increasing weight of his image. Wayne's second novel is just as witty and insightful as his first, "Kapitoil", and perfectly poignant in a world where even the everyman has developed an emotionally isolating obsession with his personal brand.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Sessions on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Let me begin this review by mentioning (as I probably will in many of my reviews from now on) that I am a new mom. My son is seven months old, and he takes up an awful lot of my time and attention. Therefore, in order to finish a book in a mere few days, I must be really hooked. Dishes and laundry pile up, I stay up late and forgo a few precious hours of sleep...and it's all worth it. This was one of those books for me. To be honest, I didn't think it would be half as good as it actually was; I thought it would be a quick read, but for the wrong reasons (fluff) and that after finishing it I wouldn't give it another thought. Boy, was I wrong. Jonny is one of my favorite characters in a long time. His voice, which alternates between world-weary and laden with showbiz lingo and achingly youthful and inexperienced, grabbed me from the start. His mess of a relationship with his mother, his naivete when seeking to reconnect with his estranged father, his fumbling through his first sexual encounters (at eleven!!)...all of these things broke my heart, but I could not. stop. reading. This is a story that forces you to reconsider previous notions of success, youth, experience, love, and acceptance, and I highly recommend it.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads's First Reads program.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robyn D. Alatorre on August 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For three-quarters of this book, I felt I was reading a daily account of a celebrities life, not a novel. Although interesting and insightful, There was no real conflict or compelling action. The last part of the book brought everything together, but I wish that the author went farther into this character study. A longer novel depicting his growing independence and real independence would have made a stronger story. Perhaps there will be a sequel?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Katherine S. Sparks on March 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved this book and truly thought I wouldn't. First person narratives put me off in general, and this one by an eleven-year-old pop star? I don't even know why I bought it. But I know why I stayed with it: an authentic voice managing to convey an experience that is just about as foreign as I can image - dealing with the strains of being a teeny bopper (does anyone use that term anymore?) phenom. Everything was dead on, from the zonked out yet brutal stage mama to the mercenary crew to the bodyguard with the heart of gold. The prose is sophisticated without sacrificing the eleven-year-old voice; the New Yorker parody for example, is laugh-out-loud perfect. Even the redemptive and positive ending didn't cloy, as it so easily could have. I woke up at three a.m. and stayed in bed until eight finishing this, and you will too if you give it a chance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Copperfield on March 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The premise of the book is simple: What if Justin Bieber, age 11 3/4, was a very smart, funny, likable kid who was trying to make sense of his life as a teen idol. And while it would have been easy to veer into stereotype and parody, Wayne doesn't go that route. Instead, he creates a very believable precocious 11 year old who is mostly self-aware and a lot lonelier and sadder than he realizes. Jonny is a great narrator, a latter-day Holden Caulfield, and a truly unique voice who's both timeless and a reflection of his times. Wayne has done an excellent job overall with the book: the secondary characters are well fleshed out and Hollywood celebrity culture is laid bare without condescension - like Jonny, it just is what it is. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jessica on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not something I often publicly admit, but I consider myself a pop culture connoisseur. If you're like me, and Perez Hilton or OK! is your wind down read of choice, then I think you will like this book.

Johnny Valentine (seemingly a Justin Bieber-esque tween pop star sensation) is on his second nationwide tour. This novel follows him as he travels across the country, while simultaneously taking voice lessons, getting tutored, promoting his tour/album, and working on faux image boosters concocted by his label and "momager," Jane. Through all of this, he also has the same concerns as your typical preteen - particularly girls, friends, and how to get into contact with his father, who has long been absent from Johnny's life.

Told from Johnny's POV, this novel is both insightful and funny in a dry sort of way. Johnny has simple takes on many of life's more complicated questions, such as why he is famous and rich while the children he visits in the hospital for PR are sick and dying (because it's something that just happened to him, and he works hard). Simple yet also poignant is what I would call it. Johnny's incredibly easy to relate to even though he's an tween boy, and I'm a twenty-something female, but that's just a nod to the good writing. A few other reviewers criticized Johnny's voice, saying he sounded to old for his age, but I would argue that anyone put in his position would be slightly more mature. He also has his moments where his age really shines through. For example, he wonders openly what would happen if he had diarrhea in the middle of a show. Wayne does a great job of showing both how blessed and how sad Johnny's life is. Johnny maintains firmly that his best friend is his 40-year-old bodyguard, Walter.
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