January 16, 2016

Turning Pages Reads: UNDER THE DUSTY MOON, by Suzanne Sutherland

Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Victoria Mahler is the reluctant daughter of a has-been star, one Micky Wayne, who once fronted the band rising indie rock band, Dusty Moon. That was a long time ago, now, as the band broke up shortly after Victoria was born. Micky now works at a bar and does gigs every once in awhile, but their lives are pretty much hand to mouth as Micky has recently moved them back to the big city as she waits for her next big break. Victoria's well aware that she was great, once - it's kind of inescapable since she still has fans who show her their Dusty Moon tattoos, talk to her in grocery store aisles about how that one song of hers gave their lives total meaning, and post rumors and gossip - even all these years later - of Dennis, the one who walked away from the band, the one who no one knows is dead or alive. The one who might -- maybe -- be Vic's father. At sixteen, though, Victoria's too tired of the hoopla to care much. She just wants a life where her mom is her mother, and not a star, where she has a boyfriend she's not terrified to talk to, where she has a friend who actually likes her - just a life that is...normal. Is that too much to ask?

Observations: The addition of diversity of all kinds might have added additional depth and interest to the novel, though I did note that Victoria's crush did not have a stereotypically muscular male body, being described as having a soft belly and a round, full face. Readers interested in being band groupies or what it might be like to be the kid of a rock star will find this book interesting if not entirely realistic. I was initially sympathetic to Victoria, who is frustrated with Micky to the point of hiding the truth even from herself, and lying about who she is to new friends. However, Victoria is at times outright mean and whiny with her unhappiness - granted, as anyone would be, playing second fiddle to a Great Talent - but I felt unable to relate to her deliberate and disastrous choices. She continually ran down her mother for doing what she set out to do - moving them to a larger city, getting noticed, going on tour, and getting her musical career back on track. While Victoria may not have agreed to this plan, she was tacitly on-board until it started to happen.

Victoria's father - maybe - is brought out in the beginning of the novel as a possible mystery. I expected her to use the prodigious digital resources most teens can access to try and find him - if not at home, then at a public library, at least. Instead, she simply wonders if he's dead or alive, resents that he's not there and resists her mother taking up with another man. He never reappears in the narrative, unfortunately. Victoria doesn't seem to have a lot of reasons behind her behavior which makes her hard to understand. In the end, there isn't much change or growth in Victoria's life - but she's coping, and she and her mother are speaking again, which, after all the self-induced chaos, feels a little like a victory.

Conclusion: For readers deeply interested in celebrity novels, and behind-the-scenes tales of the real and fictitious in rock music, this novel may be a winner. There's a little bit in the novel about girls designing games, which is a bonus, it's got a nice cover, which is another bonus.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of the Publisher. After February 16th, can find UNDER THE DUSTY MOON by Suzanne Sutherland at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

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