The Love Song of Jonny Valentine
Jonathan Franzen wrote in The Daily Beast that “no other writer, as far as I know, has invented such a funny and compelling voice and story for [this type of character.]” Now, in The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, Wayne turns his sharp wit, flawless narrative ventriloquism, and humane sensibility to our monstrous obsession with fame.
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.
Poignant, brilliant, and viciously funny, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators, this literary masterpiece explores with devastating insight and empathy the underbelly of success in 21st-century America. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a tour de force by a standout voice of his generation.
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Reading Group Guide
Onstage and offstage, from swanky hotels to celebrity green rooms, Teddy Wayne’s novel pulls back the curtain of pop-stardom to reveal the alternately glittering and grueling reality of eleven-year-old megastar Jonny Valentine’s life. The novel follows Jonny, his hard-charging mother, Jane (who is also his manager), and his entourage as he tours for his second album—a tour that will either catapult him into the stratosphere or leave him fumbling for a new record label. As if the pressures of preadolescence weren’t enough, Jonny must navigate marketing schemes, fans, elaborately staged performances, and the growing awareness that his life is not his own, all while he is faced with a startling revelation from his past. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a funny, moving, and unsettling coming-of-age story and a perceptive take on our obsessive and exploitative celebrity culture.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1.What do you think makes the first-perso see more