Eight months ago, 17-year-old Joshua Blackbird was making music for friends and family in a trailer in small-town Georgia. Now he’s an international music star performing at one of the most famous venues in the world.
Joshua’s girlfriend, narrator Roxanne, has been there since long before Joshua became a “brand.” She sees what no one else wants to see: Joshua is miserable. His life is a circus, one Rox wishes she could burn down: his faux romance with a pop singer; his domineering manager; the ever present paparazzi; the grueling schedule; and the demanding fans. When Joshua disappears, a devastated Rox becomes obsessed with searching the web for anything related to Joshua. His fans, called Birdies, keep his memory alive; their devotion allows Rox to hold onto him. Rox also finds comfort in stories about 1920s aerialist Lillian Leitzel. Leitzel’s intense celebrity parallels that of Joshua’s, while her ability to accept physical and emotional pain as parts of life gives Rox hope. Most characters appear to be white by default; Joshua’s drummer and close friend, Speed, is described as having dark brown skin, and his bodyguard is named Santiago. Rox navigates dissolution, anxiety, grief, and recovery in a delicate, heightened present-tense prose that hangs on every emotion.
An uplifting story of love, grief, and forgiveness. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)