The Lonely Hearts Club
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Jo Waldman lives life to her own soundtrack—working for her father by day while pursuing her music career in NYC’s downtown clubs at night. Music is her passion, along with her boyfriend, Jesse, who shares her dreams of making it big. Jo's old band, The Lonely Hearts Club, came thisclose to getting a huge recording contract, and she’s just biding her time, waiting for lightning to strike twice. The music business is tough, but so is Jo.
So when Jo's father fires her and Jesse breaks up with her, Jo doesn’t get upset—she just wants to rage. Dusting off her computer, Jo writes a blog entry, pouring her heart out about the shortcomings of love. Except that no sooner does Jo hit “upload” than the site sends a mass e-mail to the entire Lonely Hearts mailing list, alerting everybody Joe has ever met that she's been brutally dumped. All Jo wants to do is hide under the covers, but to her surprise, supportive e-mails start flowing in—many of them from complete strangers. Apparently, her anti-love rant has struck a chord. The Lonely Hearts Club Blog develops a huge following, even capturing the eye of Jo’s sworn nemesis, bubble gum pop princess Amber Fairchild. Jo soon becomes an icon for all things “anti-love,” and at her fans' request, she begins to plan The Lonely Hearts Club Ball—a massive anti-love Valentine's Day party to end all parties.
Jo quickly becomes the poster girl for lonely hearts, and it inspires her to start writing music again. There's only one problem: the web programmer helping Jo with her site is simply dreamy. Jo's never been very good at depriving herself of anything, but if this budding romance is exposed, she'll be revealed as an 'anti-love' fraud and risk losing all the people who have grown trust her voice. So is it time to start singing love songs, or time to pick up the guitar and return to the hard rock that almost got The Lonely Hearts signed in the first place? Either way, Jo's got some big decisions to make, and it looks like she's going to have to take one step closer to doing something she never thought she'd do—becoming a grownup.
From Brenda Janowitz, author of the beloved Brooke Miller novels SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST comes another uproariously funny and heartfelt story that will ring true to anyone who's dug themselves into a hole only to find that getting out is where you least expect it.
Sweet and funny
I'm usually not one to fall for a story in which music plays a big part. It's not that I don't enjoy music; I just can't relate to it the way the characters do, so I can't always get into the story. This one I made an exception for, though, since the whole online mistake was mortifying, hilarious, and definitely an interesting twist.
With a few too many drinks under her belt, Jo decides to vent her frustrations in writing. But the writing she does is on a blog, and while she doesn't mean to publish her rant, the alcohol has other plans. Before she knows it, she's put her love life and recent breakup on blast to everyone ho hasn't unsubscribed from her now abandoned blog. While the online world latches on to her honesty and holds her up as the very definition of independent, Jo's life goes even more off the rails as she begins to fall in love again. If her fans find out she hasn't truly turned her back on love, what will they think of her then?
The Verdict: I have to admit that I kind of hate Jo's dad. I get that he's trying to force her to take some responsibility for her life and be a real adult about things, but to take away her job, her car, and her home? He's lucky he didn't simply lose her forever. Granted, it wasn't his job to finance absolutely every aspect of her life, but that's a bit drastic to do all at once, don't you think? In any case…
It was clear from the beginning that Jo's life was completely getting away from her, and who can't relate to that? She loses her job and her car, and then she finds out that she's got no more free ride for her apartment either. Her heart's been in music for as long as it's been beating, and more than anything she wants to be back on stage and living her dream, but real life is making that damned near impossible, and it just keeps getting worse.
One alcohol fueled mistake has her publicizing her lack of a love life for all her old fans to see, but from that blunder comes a world of support and the feeling that she's not alone in her being lost. Those same supporters want her to make music again, and the publicity not only helps her come closer to realizing that goal but also gives her something to focus on when her life is essentially one big mess.
Tech guru Max is the last thing she expects, but the more she gets to know him, the more she falls. Unfortunately, the timing is terrible, what with the whole world holding her up as the anti-love poster child, but Max is surprisingly supportive and understanding. Watching their friendship and relationship grow alongside Jo's sense of being an adult was lots of fun, but of course, Jo's on a crash course before she knows it. I was honestly surprised that Max put up with the double-life thing she had going for as long as he did, since clearly he deserved better, but I guess that just goes to show how true his feelings were for her.
The Lonely Hearts Club is a sweet, often funny tale of a woman growing up, both musically and emotionally, and learning to stand on her own two feet — and then open up to someone who wants her happiness and success as much as she does. Max is adorably smart and patient with her, without allowing himself to be a doormat, and when Jo finally sees what's been standing in front of her all along, that's a happily ever after that is very much deserved.
***FicCentral received this book from Polis Books (via Edelweiss) for free in exchange for an honest review.