The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

A Novel

  • reading group guide
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One of the most critically acclaimed books of the year, Whiting Award-winner Teddy Wayne’s second novel is “more than a scabrous sendup of American celebrity culture; it’s also a poignant portrait of one young artist’s coming of age” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)—and an enduring yet timely portrait of the American dream gone awry.

In his rave on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, Jess Walter praised Wayne’s writing for its “feats of unlikely virtuosity” and the boy at its center as “a being of true longing and depth, and…a devastating weapon of cultural criticism…You’d have to be made of triple platinum not to ache for Jonny Valentine.”

With “assured prose and captivating storytelling” (Oprah.com’s Book of the Week), The Love Song of Jonny Valentine also showcases “one of the most complicated portrayals of the mother-son relationship since Room” (BookPage). Touring the country in a desperate attempt to save a career he’s not sure he even wants, Jonny is both driven by his mother’s ambition and haunted by his father’s absence, constantly searching for a familiar face among the crowds. Utterly convincing, whip-smart, yet endearingly vulnerable, with an “unforgettable” voice (Publishers Weekly, starred review), the eleven-year-old pop megastar sounds “like Holden Caulfield Jr. adrift in Access Hollywood hell” (Rolling Stone).

Called “a showstopper” (The Boston Globe), “hugely entertaining” (The Washington Post), “heartbreakingly convincing” (People), “buoyant, smart, searing” (Entertainment Weekly), and “touching and unexpectedly suspenseful” (The Wall Street Journal), this extraordinary novel has been widely embraced as a literary masterpiece and the rare “satire with a heart” (Library Journal, starred review).
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476705866 | 
  • February 2014
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Video

Author Teddy Wayne Endorses His Own Book - now in paperback

Teddy Wayne’s The Love Song of Jonny Valentine explores the underbelly of fame in twenty-first century America’s celebrity culture, told through the eyes of an unforgettable child. From the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of Kapitoil...

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Love Song of Jonny Valentine includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Teddy Wayne. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

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

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