If this were a movie, you'd open to the first page of this book and be transported to a whole other world. Everything would be in black and white, except maybe for the girl in pink polka-dot tights, and this really great music would start to swell in the background. All of a sudden, you wouldn't be able to help it--you'd be a part of the story, you'd be totally sucked in. You'd be in this place, filled with big lies, mysterious secrets, and a tween girl turned sleuth....
Zoom in on thirteen-year-old Dani Callanzano. It's the summer before eighth grade, and Dani is stuck in her nothing-ever-happens town with only her favorite noir mysteries at the Little Art movie theater to keep her company.
But one day, a real-life mystery begins to unravel--at the Little Art! And it all has something to do with a girl in polka-dot tights.... Armed with a vivid imagination, a flair for the dramatic, and her knowledge of all things Rita Hayworth, Dani sets out to solve the mystery, and she learns more about herself than she ever thought she could.
Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT. She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City.
Find Nova online at novaren.com and on her blog distraction99.com.
Dani is one of the most refreshingly REAL middle grade protagonists I've read in ages, and I say that as someone who reads middle grade daily for a living. It's like she's standing in front of you, telling you her story, just telling it like it is, as she reads. I want to give Dani a hug, the same way I always wanted to give Katherine Paterson's Gilly in THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS a hug -- not because I pity her, but just to let her know that I'm rooting for her. She's so totally unguarded, so unabashedly honest, even when she thinks she's being tough and closed-off. She's like glass--totally strong but totally fragile, all at the same time...AND I LOVE HER FOR IT! This is the kind of debut that comes along only once in a while--and Nova Ren Suma has just given the world of children's books a gift.
Look for Dani. Once you find her, you won't be able to forget her. Lucky you.
I said this initially and I will reiterate: I liked Dani Noir much better than Imaginary Girls if only for the fact that it's less abstract and more cohesive than the latter title. Dani Noir, in shades of melancholy and bewilderment, beautifully explores a girl's struggle to make sense of her parents' divorce. It exquisitely deconstructs the myriad of feelings of a child when she comprehends her father's betrayal. And how the consequences of this betrayal shapes her subsequently. I really liked the way the movies that mean so much to Dani is woven into the writing.
And Dani's well meaning but misplaced actions will provoke an answering emotion from you. I liked the way that the romance is handled too. I mean, this is a middle grade novel so I wasn't really expecting anything so when I did see the faintest glimmer of it, I was pleasantly surprised. It's just so classy, the way it's written. That particular aspect was missing from Imaginary Girls.
If Imaginary Girls wasn't for you, you should try Dani Noir. It's a simple story but one that will strike a chord in you.
What a charming book! This is by far one of my most favorite YA book. I adore the main character and see myself as a young adult through her. The cover is what made me get it. Stunning cover!!! I'm glad I spotted this at my local library.
I ended up enjoying this children's middle-grade novel once I realized that it wasn't really a mystery. Dani, the titular classic movie-lover (she worships Rita Hayworth) and amateur sleuth, spends the summer trying to figure out if Jackson, the older boy working at the movie theater in their small town, who Dani has connected with over old films, is cheating on his girlfriend. This matters not just because she likes Jackson and his girlfriend, but because Dani's still dealing (or not dealing) with the fact that her dad cheated on her mom and is now living with his new girlfriend and her daughter. Most readers will know right away that Jackson is cheating on his girlfriend, so it's not really a mystery -- it's more about Dani learning to accept that sometimes people you care about let you down, but that doesn't mean you stop caring about them, or them about you. She also learns a little more about not taking people for granted, not being selfish and blind to the needs of others (friends and family).
As this book is mostly a character-driven novel, it succeeds or fails based on whether you are invested in Dani or not. I think Dani is great character with a very unique voice -- she wants to be inscrutable and haughty like Hayworth, but instead she comes off as prickly and self-centered (and she is), but she remains likable. She does a lot of growing up in this book, but it’s really the amazing descriptive, unique writing that makes this book. I think this is a stand-out title, as long as you know right off the bat that it isn't really a mystery (which disappointed me for about 50 pages once I figured that out).
Also, how great is this cover? It includes important images from the book (the movie marquee, the purple tights) and captures the kiddie noir feeling of Dani's narrative with the angles and the lighting. Perfect.
When a tragedy or change strikes a family, sometimes the kids will grasp at whatever sense of stability they can. Novels for youth may include foster children and the kids of divorcees grasping at everything from saving Redwood forests to becoming the lead in the school play, as long as it means concentrating on something outside of their own misery. To the best of my knowledge, however, I’ve never seen a middle grade novel where the main character went in for noir cinema. Dani Noir does just that though. First time novelist Nova Ren Suma presents us with a sympathetic if not entirely charming protagonist. Bound to create plenty of discussion, if you’re looking for a book that will get kids talking, I think this one has your number.
When Dani’s mom and dad split up she made one thing very clear; She wanted to stay with her mother and not her double-crossing, two timing, cheating traitor of a father. So why is her mother making her spend a weekend with the man? This summer, Dani hasn’t any plans at all except to sit back in her tiny town’s solitary art house theater and watch all the film noirs she can. Unfortunately, now she has her dad’s new life (and new upcoming wife) to distract her, as well as a mystery at the theater. Who was that mysterious girl she saw exciting the projectionist booth unawares? Is there a double cross going on? Who’s going to find out? Conjuring up everything from Gilda to Double Indemnity, this Rita Hayworth-obsessed heroine finds a mystery of her own and sets out to solve it. But are all mysteries meant to be solved? And what happens when uncovering the crime makes you more culpable than the people committing it?
Suma does a nice job with Dani’s voice. This particular heroine has a tendency to waver between the inherent romanticism and drama of her black and white noir world, and the reality of her low-rent little town. Right on page one she tells you, “There’s the one supermarket, the one movie theater, the one Chinese restaurant. But there are twelve different places to buy junk for your lawn.” Really, the descriptions in this book are a lot of the fun. Sentences like this one about putting butter on movie popcorn may even make you physically ill. “The what-we-assume-is-butter sinks down into the lower reaches of the popcorn slowly, like ear wax coming alive and spreading down your body to your feet.” Suma also describes characters in an almost visceral sense. Of the mysterious “other woman” Dani has taken to spotting, she says that the girl has, “... oddest of all, footless tights with spots all over them, dark pink and star white, like she broke out in some sort of heinous rash just on her legs.” Or of her future stepsister, “Her eyes are like the sharp little stones you step on when you’re running down the driveway to get the mail...”
In a book of this sort, the primary difficulty comes in maintaining Dani as the kind of person you want to read about. To be blunt, she is often not very likeable. Sympathetic, oh yes! But not likeable. I’d love to poll kids on the moment when they start breaking with her, mentally criticizing her for her choices. Near the beginning? Halfway through? Right at the end? Or are there kids out there who feel like Dani is justified on acting on her whims at the expense of others every step of the way? For me it was around page 16 when you hear Dani say of her old friend Taylor, “I could compliment her hair, but I don’t. Besides, she’s in my way.” Taylor, for the record, is a pretty interesting character too. She begins the book just as someone for Dani to be dismissive of. The kind of girl who has t-shirts with fuzzy tiger heads on them, and unicorns on her books. But as the book goes on, Taylor becomes the kind of person who would normally be the hero of a middle grade novel. She learns, grows, and even begins to question why she would even want to be friends with Dani as the story goes on. I do believe that there will be some kids out there who don’t like Dani and who will put down the book because they can’t make themselves spend any more time with her. Most, however, may not like her but they’ll relate to her, and in the long run that’s what’s more important.
There were particularly contemporary plot details that I thought worked very well in the context of the story. Perhaps the use of Facebook in the plot will date it as the years go by, but I prefer to think of it as an element that simply solidifies it in a specific moment in time. As for cell phones, Suma’s very good at using them perfectly. Sometimes I feel like many middle grade authors today are more comfortable writing historical fiction because they won’t have to deal with the problem of how to incorporate cell phones into their stories. Smart authors use them strategically like Ms. Suma does here. Everything from ringtones to spotty cell service caused by nearby mountainsides has a purpose here. A tip of the hat to that.
Not to give anything away, but I was very pleased with how the book ended. Aw, what the heck. Spoiler alert if you don’t want to know the ending! Okay. So at the end of the book Dani could do a crazy 180 degree turnaround that is completely wrong for her character, and embrace her new stepfamily. Doesn’t happen. Her dad is a jerk of the first order and he’s not getting off the hook all that easily. And while there may be some hint that Dani will be going to his upcoming wedding after all, I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it. That’s part of the charm of Dani Noir. Even while you may not agree with everything it does, you are emotionally involved from page one onward. Dani’s anger and frustration is your anger and frustration. So at least she’s understandable.
It’s funny, but there’s a fellow debut middle grade novel that has come out in 2009 that acts as almost a companion to this book. Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino would never be confused with Dani Noir but on paper the similarities are there. Both books star bullying, selfish, single-minded female protagonists who are dealing with the fact that their best female friends recently moved away and their parents are not getting along smoothly. In both cases there’s a boy who goes out of his way to be nice to our heroine in spite of the fact that she treats him like garbage. There’s even an older absent brother in both of the books who is unable to give our heroine the support that she really needs. Of course, these are just surface similarities. You’ll find the tone of the two tales very different indeed, but I still think that kids who like one will be naturally drawn to the other.
Though it stands entirely on its own, Dani Noir may be one of those books that lends itself to a sequel or two. Certainly Dani’s story isn’t done. Nor, for that matter, are the stories of her friends. It will be interesting to see the extent to which kids go for a character this self-involved. Still, let’s remember that Katherine Paterson’s The Great Gilly Hopkins was the ultimate litmus test in me-focused children’s novels. The real question may be this; Does Dani change enough by the book’s end? Some will say yes. Some will say no. I say, read the book for yourself and find out.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
DANI NOIR is a powerfully entertaining and heartfelt middle-grade novel by a talented debut author to keep an eye out for. Dani is pitch-perfect and has ageless appeal, and it’s easy to connect with the issues she faces in this story.
The star of the novel is without a doubt Dani, who’s precocious with her interest in noir films, yet just self-centered enough in that way of preteens to be infuriating and endearing. She may remind you of your best and worst self in middle school—and if she doesn’t, then she is that girl in your math class, or the kind of girl you wish you had been back in the day. Dani is far from perfect: other characters rightfully call her “selfish,” but you can’t help but feel close to her, because not only is she terribly real, she’s also incredibly funny and entertaining.
Dani’s quest to expose Jackson’s lies is lighthearted enough, but, unbeknownst to her, carries a strong connection to her feelings of paternal abandonment. Separation and divorce is a common enough subject in middle grade fiction, but Nova Ren Suma deals with it delicately here, not allowing it to consume Dani’s life and thus make DANI NOIR just another serious issues book.
DANI NOIR has a great protagonist and would make for a good read for middle schoolers, their older siblings, and their parents and grandparents. Don’t miss out on this wonderfully sweet novel!
Dani loves film noir movies. Little Art plays those lovely black and white flicks, which is the only good thing in her middle-of-nowhere town. Dani wishes her life were more like the movies and less like the suck-fest it has become now that her parents are divorced. Then one day, a mystery presents itself and Dani is on the case. There's a girl in polka-dot tights and she knows she has to figure out who she is and what she's doing. There's deeper reasons why this mystery means so much to her, and as she unravels the mystery she discovers things about herself and the people around her that she never would have known.
This was such a fun read. Even though she is selfish and sarcastic, she was quite a great character. Dani is going through a tough time with her parents divorcing, so it's no wonder she's acting out. Of course Dani is aware that she's in a bad situation and knows that she can get away with being a brat. She was a very real character though and that I liked. I loved that she was into film noir and had a cute little theater to watch them in. I would love to have an amazing little place like that in my town. She is very into the whole solving the mystery of the girl in the pink polka-dotted tights, that she doesn't really think things through. Dani never focuses on the big picture, because the case hits too close to home and she seems to have a hard time removing the personal touch from it.
I was a little disappointed in the lack of drama in the dramatic conclusion to the mystery. I feel like the scene should have been more explosive. It would have made it more entertaining and more realistic. I don't think those things fade quietly into the night. DRAMA! Regardless it was still a good conclusion.
I think this book could use a sequel, because there are just too many unresolved emotion with Dani and the new family. I think there was never any closure either way, she still hadn't decided if she was okay or not. Those things do take time, but I would really like to see what terms she comes to.
The other characters were pretty unique, at least the ones we get to actually meet. Even though Dani made him out to be annoying, I grew quite fond of Arthur. He was an okay kid, sweet. He just seemed like a really nice boy, bored, but keeping himself occupied.
If you get the chance to check out his book, I highly recommend you do. It was a fun romp with a teen sleuth in a small town.
First Line: "A slow fade-in on my life: There's this little mountain town, smack between two long highways that go nowhere in either direction."
Favorite Line: "A femme fatale can be an enigma all she wants. She can walk off into the sunset as one, dragging his heart along with her."
Even though Nova Ren Suma’s debut was later rebranded and marketed towards an older audience, I would say that Fade Out is pretty solidly middle grade. Dani’s in her summer between sixth and seventh grade and the themes all felt more like a middle grade than a young adult book to me. Having read most of Nova Ren Suma’s books(all but one), Fade Out threw me a little bit off balance. It’s for a younger audience, obviously, but there were other things too. Fade Out is pure, 100% realistic fiction, unlike the magical realism elements of Imaginary Girls or The Walls Around Us.
It’s also a debut, and I think it shows. Fade Out is well-written, yes, but in the other books I’ve read by Nova Ren Suma, her prose isn’t just good–it’s exceptional. I wanted to crawl into the words and live between them. I delighted in every sentence. I would not hesitate to call her other books some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. Fade Out has some wonderful lines and beautiful parts, but it’s not quite the same. There’s not quite that conciseness, that sharp intent yet. Everything was a little fuzzier and less defined that I would expect.
Still, I felt myself pulled into Dani’s story. Dani’s parents have recently separated, and her summer hasn’t been going so great. She’s been escaping into a local independent theater to watch her favorite noir films, but one day she sees the teenage boy who works the reel–Jackson–with a girl Dani doesn’t recognize, a fact she finds odd considering she knows Jackson’s girlfriend. Dani’s determined to catch Jackson in his lies and starts plotting.
I didn’t really find myself drawn to the plot in this book. I didn’t hate it, but it was by far my least favorite aspect of the book. I was more interested in Dani and the characters around her than her scheme to catch Jackson. Dani’s voice comes through so clear that it was pretty delightful. She imagines her life to be a noir movie, and it’s interesting to see this thirteen-year-old girl be so wise at points and then so self-important at others–in that way, Fade Out rang pretty true to life.
I’m glad I read Fade Out just to experience more of Nova Ren Suma’s words, but this is by far my least favorite of her books I’ve read so far. It was compelling at times and I liked the inclusion of noir movies, but ultimately it was a story I liked at the time but will probably never re-visit. It think if you’ve liked Nova Ren Suma’s other books it’s worth giving this one a shot, but I wouldn’t recommend starting with it.
Mini blurb: A 13 y.o. noir-movies lover, hurting from her parents' divorce and her best friend's relocation, tries to figure out if her older crush is cheating on his girlfriend, and does a lot of growing up in the process.
Rated 3.5 really.
Fade Out (previously Dani Noir) is Nova Ren Suma's debut, dated 2009 (reissued 2012), and one of those rare books that cross the bridge between MG and YA - which is a good thing. Of course, this influenced my rating, because I tend to like my books more complex and darker (like Suma's following ones proved to be); but if you don't mind a rather straightforward coming-of-age story with a flawed, yet relatable protagonist, a dash of mystery and a whole lotta love for Rita Hayworth and B&W movies, you'll find Fade Out quite charming. Dani is a very realistic 13 y.o. going through a difficult time (as if being 13 wasn't hard enough), impulsive but loyal - though not to everyone - oblivious but with her heart in the right place. The writing, as usual with Suma, is lovely - just a little toned down if compared to her more recent novels. Definitely recommended for readers of MG/lower YA and adults looking for a non-angsty/smile inducing read (unless they're going through a divorce...).
Note: definitive review (I don't have enough to say to justify writing a full-length one later).
Dani's life is falling apart: since the divorce, her mother spends most of her time crying; Dani's best friend, Maya, moved away weeks ago and has yet to call; and Dani is being forced to spend a weekend with her father and his girlfriend. At least she has the solace of the Little Art, a one-screen movie theater in her small town that is showing only film noir reels this summer. When a glimpse of a girl in pink polka-dot tights makes Dani suspect that something sketchy is going on, she begins to investigate. Along the way she learns about friendship and about herself, and she learns that, while film noir might be fun to watch on the big screen, it is not as glamorous as Rita Hayworth makes it seem.
I love a lot of film noir, so I was excited to read this book. And it was ok. But I felt that it could have been better. Dani is a fairly realistic, self-centered, clueless 13-year-old girl. Frankly, I didn't like her very much. Before she became friends with Maya, she had been best friends with Taylor for years, until they hit 6th grade and Dani thought Taylor was too immature (still interested in unicorns). I was like Taylor (although I was never interested in unicorns) and therefore have little sympathy for Dani "dumping" her.
I recognize that Dani is going through a very difficult time because of her parent's divorce... but she is just so completely self-centered. I was very pleased when Austin points out to her just how selfish she is. She breaks the rules all the time for stupid reasons, she is rude to her mother and to her friends' parents... seriously, the only thing I liked about her was her taste in movies.
I appreciate how the author includes Facebook and cellphone cameras in an attempt to bring a film noir detective's investigation to the present day. But the book just didn't grab me. Nevertheless, it was still worth reading, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to a child I thought might be interested. It is certainly a different sort of mystery, which is kind of fun.
I can't decide whether the references to old movies and the actors and actresses that starred in them would cause confusion or whether they would inspire interest in the old movies... However, I would be willing to take a chance and hope that it would be the latter.
This was a surprising book. I'd expected it to be in the vein of Nova Ren Suma's other novels, which are psychological YA thrillers blended with magical / paranormal realism. But FADE OUT, which was previously released for Middle Grade readers as DANI NOIR, is a straightforward YA mystery, with shades of the quirkiness and dark edges that are synonymous with Suma's current style. The central plot revolves around 13-year-old Dani playing detective when she realizes her babysitter's boyfriend Jackson (who Dani herself may or may not have a crush on) might be cheating. But the story also draws on Dani's parents' divorce, her father's impending second marriage to his mistress, and her shaky friendships with other children in her small upstate New York hometown.
To me, FADE OUT's main weakness is that the lack of cohesion between the various plot threads. I guess you could tie Dani's anger at Jackson to her lingering distress over her father leaving the family...? In any case, it's difficult to understand Dani's motivations sometimes - and when those reasons are finally revealed, some required a leap in logic in order to be believable.
So what kept me reading? Dani's fantastic narrative voice. Inquisitive, imaginative, sassy, skeptical, and sarcastic, she's a wickedly fun character to follow and daydream with. Her obsession with film noir also plays a big role, and not just in the plot. We might not be familiar with the films that Dani describes, but we get a deep enough sense of their darkness, melodrama, and moral ambiguity to see how they've influenced Dani and remind us how, strangely enough, real life can sometimes echo the movies. After all, life imitates art, right? Or is it the other way around? ;)
So, yes, FADE OUT was a quick, entertaining read. But if you're new to Nova Ren Suma's work, I'd recommend starting with 17 & GONE or THE WALLS AROUND US instead, since they're both stronger stories than this one.
After hearing such good things about Nova Ren Suma’s books I had high hopes for Fade Out. I’m sad to say that I was a bit disappointed with this one. The writing was good it was the story that really let me down but I won’t be giving up on Nova Ren Suma’s other books.
Fade Out is definitely a middle grade novel and I knew that going into it but I think I expected something a bit more mature than what I got. Dani is a very immature girl. She doesn’t have a very realistic outlook and she acts her age, that’s for sure. Ever since her dad left her mom for another woman she doesn’t trust men and that applies to all men. When she thinks that her friends boyfriend might be cheating on her she decides to take it upon herself to find out and prove it to her friend. Let’s just say that Dani takes stalker to a whole new level and her motives are not exactly as pure as she wants people to think. She really is rather selfish and it’s hard to like Dani. She was definitely my biggest problem with the book.
The whole story in Fade Out is Dani trying to prove that her friend’s boyfriend is cheating on her. That is literally the whole story with some films thrown in for good measure. From the summary I expected there to be some deep dark murderous secret that Dani uncovers but no. It’s just the fact that he’s cheating. I was really let down by that and the story was pretty boring. There just wasn’t enough going on to keep me interested and I found myself rushing through the story just because I wanted to be done with it. I think that most readers my age or older will feel the same way but middle grade readers will probably enjoy this one and it’s a great read for younger teens.
Overall, Fade Out really let me down. While I was definitely impressed with the writing, that was the only thing that impressed me. Hopefully I find Nova Ren Suma’s other books to be more to my taste because this one just wasn’t.
I had high expectations for this title. Unfortunately none of them were met. I could not get over how clumsily the film summaries were injected into the narrative. As I read I was constantly taken out of the story by not very good summaries of movies everyone has already seen. Also, what small mountain town can maintain a theater that shows only classic movies? It’s not the 60s and 70s when MOMA was still renting out prints cheaply (and if the Little Arts theater has a platter projector as is implied when Jackson says he has to set up the reels) then you couldn't even get good 35mm prints of these titles anyway. There is no way a small theater could afford the rental and shipping costs of the prints featured in the narrative. How do we know its not the 60s or 70s when a small theater like this might have survived? Because the novel has been instantly dated by the author mentioning facebook and ichat on a number of occasions (even making turning facebook into a plot point). As I read the novel I felt that it was already dated. I feel the same way about this title as I felt about last year's Little Brother or this year's Sophomore Undercover. These titles are all trying too hard to be hip and current that they instead become instantly dated and in five years they will likely seem just silly. It's like when a parent tries to convince his or her child's friends that he/she is cool, it comes off really lame.
I read this book back when it was called Dani Noir. It had a different cover -- an awesome one that so completely suited the story. This cover doesn't do it justice. I adored this book, the author's voice particularly. Dani is spunky, adventurous, snarky, fun. Nothing like this image.
Very glad I own an old copy with the original cover art.
But do yourself a favor and read the book anyway! :)
Wow. I'd forgotten how good books could be. (I'm talking about books I randomly pick up at the library, books I've never heard of before.) This one was great, even if it was written for thirteen-year-olds. You've got an interesting heroine (who definitely isn't perfect...or unbelievably horribly angsty either - very realistic) and a fun/twisty plot and tons of references to old noir movies that I adore (Laura, especially). Very cool.
I thought it was going to be a Nancy Drew Mystery- but had some Boyfriend troubles mixed in there. I really like the desciption and dialog and you can really relate to the charecters. 5 stars hands down.
Love, love, love this book! I am a huge fan of noir movies and I loved how the author wove the movies and actresses into the story. The "femme fatale" gives Dani a sense of who she is as she navigates her world filled with love and lies.
The characters are all well developed and fun, each with their own interests and quirks. All of which impact Dani's interactions and the plot as it continuously moves forward. The storyline, about love and lies, is full of complex issues such as new and old friendships, new and old families, secret romantic feelings, cheating, her dad leaving, and her mom's depression, yet it is written so smoothly. The characters and actions flow so well together, the reader moves from one to another flawlessly.
Because of how these subjects are written, this is a perfect book for middle school. It deals with serious subjects that definitely impact the lives in this age group and is written so cleanly that no teacher, parent, or school administrator can object.
I really wish they would put in the description of the book the age of the main character.
I started this book thinking it was about kids my age (16-18) and it was actually about 14 year olds. Unfortunately, I just don't do well reading about kids that young. The book definitely has to be really good (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Iron Trial, etc.) for me to read about 12-14 year olds.
The book was pretty clean. It was dull to me. Had no excitement. Just a bunch of drama that could've been avoided. It shouldn't be for sheltered readers as it greatly discusses cheating, divorce, remarrying, stepfamily, etc.
the book didn't have that much of the climate part and maybe because i have read better books but i like the style of writing. let me tell you this, the book is only telling about how she is trying to crack open Jackson's secret girlfriend because he already have a girlfriend that she knows. THAT IS THE ONLY THING! i'm disappointed but neutral throughout the book.
We first meet thirteen year old Dani when she's sitting on the roof outside her bedroom window, checking her pink cellphone because it's the only spot she can get reception near her house. She's hoping her brother who is away at soccer camp will call so she can blow him off because he's been able to escape their little nowhere town in western New York and avoid not having anything to do but watch her mom continue her meltdown as a result of her dad moving out. Dad was cheating on her and now that they're divorced, he's living with his new girlfriend across the Hudson River. There are two more reasons Dani's on the roof getting bitten by mosquitoes. She's hoping her best friend, Maya who moved away three months ago, will call, but that's been happening less and less. The biggest reason she's on the roof is because her father's on his way to pick her up so she can spend the weekend with him, his girlfriend and the girlfriend's 16 year old daughter. Dani plans to refuse to leave the roof under any circumstance. Life doesn't always happen according to plan and Dani's about to find that out in some very interesting ways. She's dealing with her anger and hurt by immersing herself in noir movies at the small art theater down the street. She goes here a lot, often stopping at the ice cream place across the street where Elissa, the high school girl who used to babysit her works. Elissa is in a summer relationship with Jackson, whose aunt owns the theater. He's spending the summer working as a projectionist, hoping to earn enough to buy a car and ditch the bike he uses to get around. Austin, the owner's son and the same age as Dani, sells tickets and works as an usher. When Dani's hiding out in the theater after deciding her mom won't let her stay on the roof, she sees a mystery girl talking to Jackson in the projection booth, Her suspicious mind starts wondering if Jackson is two-timing Elissa. She follows the girl who is wearing polka dot tights, but loses her when her mother drives up and hauls her off to go with her dad. It's an uncomfortable weekend, but Dani learns from Nicole, the sixteen year old daughter, that Jackson has a girlfriend in that town named Bella who is Nicole's friend. This information sends Dani into high gear, to the point where she loses her perspective and becomes obsessed with getting proof of Jackson's infidelity. What follows is a very nicely done portrait of a hurt thirteen year old who doesn't know how to sort things out before acting on impulses that have painful consequences. By the time she comes to her senses, she's lied, broken her curfew and almost lost her friends. Fortunately, she manages to make amends and is a much wiser girl for it and, dare we say, discovers that a boy she thought was really annoying, is kinda cute and likes her. Tweens will like this story a lot, particularly those who have experienced parental breakup, an obsession that was relatively harmless or have had a best friend move away.
My pick this week is Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma. This book is only a few years old (2009) but I never see this book mentioned that much. I was first drawn in by the cover and the name of the book. The cover deliciously illustrates the mood and tone of the book. It harkens back to old film noirs, which is what the book is also based on. This is truly a cover that fits the book and the themes within.
It's the summer between 7th and 8th grade and Dani lives in a small town in upstate New York. She is obsessed with old movies, especially movies with Rita Hayworth. She uses films to narrate her life and to understand it, and she spends massive amounts of time at the local movie theatre, which shows old films exclusively. Her life is complicated by the fact that her parents are divorcing and her mother is falling apart while her father has moved across the river. Her best friend has moved away and Austin, son of the local theatre owner, spends his time annoying her or so she thinks. Dani is struggling with her parents' divorce and when she discovers that Jackson, Austin's older cousin, is being visited by a mysterious femme fatale, she finds herself in her own film noir. To unravel the mystery of this girl with the polka dot tights, Dani uses the detective skills she learned from watching these films.
The best way I would describe this book is cozy. I knew what was going to happen just from the first chapter, but I still enjoyed the book. The book is a mystery/noir and a coming of age story. I liked the combination of the two genres and thought the author did an excellent job of using the medium of film to illustrate the divorce between Dani's parents and the turmoil she is experiencing. Dani's favorite actress at the beginning is Rita Hayworth and this shifts at the end of the novel, which is a nice way to show the changes in her life.
The most interesting thing about the novel were the characters. Dani is not a perfect person, but she grows throughout the story. She is bratty, intelligent, selfish, curious and even caring at some points. At the beginning, she is selfish and while she doesn't completely outgrow this at the end, she has begun to realize that she has flaws, and that her parents, friends and acquaintances are flawed and complex as well. My favorite realization that Dani has is when she realizes that Austin has a crush on her and Taylor, her former best friend, has also changed and maybe their friendship can be rekindled. I also loved the character of Austin and while Dani found him annoying at first, his friendship with her was very sweet.
As this is Nova Ren Suma's debut, I thought she did an excellent job at making complex characters and I already have her second book on my to-read list.