THE LOVE SONG OF JONNY VALENTINE
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.
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An excerpt of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine at NRP
New York Times Editors' Choice
Oprah.com's Book of the Week
Indie Next List pick
BookPage's Fiction Top Pick
Arizona Republic March Book Pick
"It speaks well of both Jonny and his creator that the result is this good, a moving, entertaining novel that is both poignant and pointed — a sweet, sad skewering of the celebrity industry...his satirist’s eye is impeccable...so limpidly does Wayne imitate the voice of a preteen celebrity, he risks making it look easy...to create out of that entitled adolescent voice a being of true longing and depth, and then to make him such a devastating weapon of cultural criticism — these are feats of unlikely virtuosity, like covering Jimi Hendrix on a ukulele...Wayne has crafted a funny, affecting tour of our cultural wasteland...you’d have to be made of triple platinum not to ache for Jonny Valentine."
—Jess Walter, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"Sad-funny, sometimes cutting...Mr. Wayne depicts Jonny as a complicated, searching boy, by turns innocent and sophisticated beyond his years, eager to please and deeply resentful, devoted to his unusual talent and aware of both its rewards and its costs. This is what makes 'The Love Song' 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
"Deft and delightful...touching (and unexpectedly suspenseful)...so frank and engaging."
—The Wall Street Journal
"Winsome [and] hugely entertaining."
—The Washington Post
"A scathing portrayal of our culture’s celebrity obsession...assured prose and captivating storytelling."
—Oprah.com, Book of the Week
"A showstopper...The book’s greatest triumph — and there are many — is Jonny’s voice...a serious book that is way more fun than the life of a child star."
—The Boston Globe
"The most authentic voice."
—NPR, "All Things Considered"
"Heartbreakingly convincing...Hate Bieber? Wayne's touching portrait might change your mind."
"Depicting the inner life of a protagonist who is not yet a full-fledged adult is no small feat, but author Teddy Wayne pulls it off masterfully."
—The Daily Beast
"A masterpiece in no uncertain terms, one of those novels that happens once every twenty years...the new Mark Twain."
—Il Giornale (Italy)
"Masterfully executed...the real accomplishment is the unforgettable voice of Jonny. If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Provocative and bittersweet...Jonny is such an engaging, sympathetic character that his voice carries the novel...A very funny novel when it isn't so sad, and vice versa."
— Kirkus (starred review)
"The novel rides on the appealing combination of Jonny’s innocence and wisdom beyond his years. This is ultimately a satire with a heart, capturing the sadness, longing, and confusion beneath the celebrity veneer...A top-of–the-charts tale."
— Library Journal (starred review)
"Wayne manages to negotiate a character so original, so multitextured, and teetering so precariously between innocence and emptiness, the result is a stunning achievement in literary zeitgeist."
"Surprisingly moving...heartbreaking...A mix of pre-adolescent angst and industry cynicism that makes him sound like Holden Caulfield Jr. adrift in Access Hollywood hell."
"One of the most salient aspects is the way that this young mind has been shaped by his unique position as a pop star...But in this coming-of-age story, the circumstances are unique."
—James Franco, The Huffington Post
"A biting yet humane look at not just the tween pop industry (and the tweenypoppers who inhabit it), but a sympathetic inner landscape of a child made a commodity too soon...With both wizened sass and juvenile fragility, Jonny proves that things get sticky even in the land of bubblegum."
—Time Out New York
"A fiery, sometimes funny...critique of the exploitation of children at the hands of the rapacious music industry."
—London Review of Books
"Heartbreaking and amusing...more than anything, Jonny reminded me of Jack, the 5-year-old captive narrator of Emma Donoghue's Room. Like Room, this novel takes a sordid tabloid situation and illuminates it with a child's voice so real you want to climb inside the book and rescue him."
"Brilliantly funny and beautifully written."
—New York Daily News
"Hilarious and heartbreaking...An original, poignant and captivating coming-of-age story...a breathtakingly fresh novel about the dark side of show business...includes one of the most complicated portrayals of the mother-son relationship since Room."
—BookPage Fiction Top Pick, February 2013
"Sad, provoking, darkly funny."
—The A.V. Club
"Teddy Wayne has all the classic trappings of a rising novelist."
—New York Observer
"Think an imagined life of a star like Bieber...but so much better; moving and hilarious and typical of Wayne.”
—The Atlantic Wire, Winter 2013 Books Preview
"The best—and only—tween-pop novel you'll ever read. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, the second novel from rising star Teddy Wayne, depicts the world of prepackaged pop through the eyes of a precocious 11-year-old tween idol (think Justin
Bieber by way of Holden Caulfield)."
—Details, #1 on Feb. 2013 Yes List
"Impressive...It’s the rare first-person narrative from a kid that reads for adults."
"Switchblade-keen satirist Teddy Wayne...delves into the twisted world of celebrity culture with delicious, detailed insight. It's as if People magazine were written by Kurt Vonnegut, smart and fun and fanged... there are also great swaths of heart and pain and genuine compassion."
—Tampa Bay Times
"A deeply likeable and thoroughly heartbreaking character...air-tight satire...masterfully done."
"Wayne brilliantly narrates from the perspective of Jonny's tweenage prison...Reading about Jonny means rooting for him, even though there is a sense that he, like so many real stars who we will never know so well, is already long gone."
"Wayne cleverly submerges readers into the distorted world of child celebrity...Like a contemporary Oliver Twist or Holden Caulfield, Jonny is slowly grasping a world outside his insular one...a fresh and intriguing slice of life of today’s celebrity culture."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Few novels with child narrators can truly appeal to adults in a complex way. Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away and, of course, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird are obvious exceptions, and we can add this novel to the list."
"Moving, funny and strangely fascinating."
—Arizona Republic March Book Pick
"Laid out in a surprisingly poignant mix of cynicism and innocence, Wayne intertwines both Jonny and Jonathan's voices into a sublime plot, making it an unconventional coming-of-age story that digs beneath the glossy veneer of mainstream pop."
—The National (UAE)
"A rollicking satire of America's obsession with fame and pop culture."
—The Millions, most-anticipated Books of 2013
"A scathingly funny look inside the 'tween-pop industrial complex...extremely clever, and alive, and 'richly observed,' as they say."
"The Love Song of Jonny Valentine takes us deep into the dark arts and even darker heart of mass-market celebrity, 21st-century version. In the near-pubescent hitmaker of the title, Teddy Wayne delivers a wild ride through the upper echelons of the entertainment machine as it ingests human beings at one end and spews out dollars at the other. Jonny's like all the rest of us, he wants to love and be loved, and as this brilliant novel shows, that’s a dangerous way to be when you’re inside the machine."
—Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"I'd wanted to go slowly and read The Love Song of Jonny Valentine over the course of a week or two, but once Jonny's voice got into my head, I was hooked, and kept picking it back up, and so I ended up on the last page, reading that final, amazing sentence, at like three in the morning...This novel is a serious accomplishment...America as we know it, with laughs on every page, but also a book that doesn't take one cheap shot...And at the swirling core, you have an 11-year-old boy trapped by his fame and trying to figure out how to move through the world, and who wants nothing more than to find his father. This is a book with a runaway narrative engine, tremendous ambitions, and an even bigger heart. I do not lie when I tell you: Teddy Wayne is as good a young writer as we have."
—Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children
"What is most searing about Teddy Wayne’s splendid new novel is not his trenchant social criticism, nor the itchy, unsettling way that he makes tragedy entertaining, but that in the bubble of celebrity which comprises little Jonny Valentine’s whole world, at times the only differences between the savvy, drug-taking, lonely adults and the savvy, drug-taking, lonely kid himself are his outsized talent, and their avarice plus wrinkles."
—Helen Schulman, New York Times bestselling author of This Beautiful Life
"The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a novel of ferocious wit and surprising poignancy. Teddy Wayne has written a pitch-perfect anthem for our surreal American Dream, a power ballad for the 21st-century unhappy family, an epic ode to the fleeting glory of fame...Adored by his fans, enslaved by the music industry, Jonny Valentine navigates the high-stakes game of celebrity while secretly longing for the love of his missing dad. And we, in turn, long for him to hold onto his soulful spirit, his baby chub, his cri de coeur, his ‘major vulnerabilities.’ A deeply entertaining novel with humor and heart to spare."
—Amber Dermont, New York Times bestselling author of The Starboard Sea
"In Jonny Valentine, Teddy Wayne has created a vivid and achingly authentic portrait of an adolescent prodigy trying to make sense of a world from which he’s been kept mostly separate. Wry, witty, and genuinely moving, this is a novel that delves into the private longings of a public figure, exposing the sometimes dark and often ridiculous inner-workings of a life in show business. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is absorbing and beautifully written—and also a ton of fun to read."
—Aryn Kyle, New York Times bestselling author of The God of Animals