The consequences of unintentionally kidnapping her rock-star hero reverberate through a misfit English teen’s life.
Grieving for her life-and-soul-of-the-party grandfather, Jody waits all day in line at the Cardiff Arena, desperate for a chance to interact with Jackson Gatlin, the dramatic lead singer of her favorite band, The Regulators. When they meet backstage, Jody is horrified to see the mask of stardom slip away, revealing a miserable, lost soul rather than the assured, sexy star she worships. Jackson, high and hallucinating, mistakes a shiny candy wrapper for a knife, leading Jody to bundle him off home in her best friend Mac’s car. Once Jackson realizes that he’s in what amounts to a secret location, he refuses to leave: Sick of fame, terrified of his sadistic manager and wanting to get sober at last, he’s ready for a normal life. Skuse lets readers see the entitled, self-centered and self-loathing side of international superstardom, slowly forcing Jody to face the reality that famous people are just...people. Jody and Jackson embark on an increasingly stable friendship, while Jody begins to see Mac—supposedly gay but secretly pining for her—as a true love interest. A bit of over-the-top silliness with a very determined local journalist and the cartoonish nastiness of Jackson’s manager are credulity-straining limitations, but these are minor flaws.
Overall, this engaging, surprisingly serious caper is rock-solid. (Fiction. 13-16)