Every so often a book comes along that seems to tick all boxes and give me exactly what I wanted,sometimes things I don't even consciously know I want from a book. After trying to read 'Sing Me to Sleep' by Angela Morrison and getting nowhere 'Rockoholic' arrived in the post and I immediately loved the manic collage of the cover and dived right in. I bought this book based on good reviews I'd seen elsewhere and my awareness of the author's previous book, which I'm yet to read.
Straight-away I was hooked by Jody's story of obsessive love for her rock star Jackson Gaitlin. Not only did I think C.J. Skuse had captured spot on the feelings of a young girl with a big habit I felt like I was reading about the internal feelings of my own youth. It's worth adding a disclaimer here that I felt such an affinity with Jody because I was that kind of girl. An awkward teen with an all-encompassing love for a certain Manic Street Preachers, I spent my teen years eating, sleeping and breathing their music and much of my emerging personality and indeed person I am now was shaped by those years.
Essentially this book is about what happens to Jody when she goes to see her favourite band in the world and comes home with more than she bargained for. I loved the fact I didn't know much about this book before I read it so I don't want to reveal too much here.
I could picture myself when I read about Jody queuing for the Regulators gig in her 'special t-shirt that shows she is a real fan' and one of my favourite scenes in the book was her description of her thoughts and feelings while she waits for the gig to begin. The crushing disappointment that follows after she misses the ending and then later meets Jackson and sees the reality behind the persona were brilliantly realistic and very touching.
This book encompasses so many themes for me it's really awe-inspiring in its achievements. The maturity that comes to Jody with the realisation that the Jackson she fell in love with is nothing more than a myth was well-developed and runs alongside the gradual dawning of her feelings for Mac.
All of the characters here are realistic and well-developed but I think Jody's Grandad deserves a special mention. The fallout from her grief is very touching and I love that as a reader you get to gradually learn more about such superbly cool and rebellious man. The evolution of Jackson is at the heart of the story and I went through despising him at the beginning for crushing Jody's dreams to admiring him by the end when he takes massive risks in order to really make his own decisions.
In YA terms I tend to read a lot of American books and while these are fab, one of the many things I loved about 'Rockoholic' was its inherent Englishness. I loved the endless cups of tea and mentions of Asda and Waitrose, all of which meant I could relate to the story even more. Jody's madcap turns of phrase were really refreshing and hilarious and her 'thank Cobain' mantra made me smile every time. The dullness of being confined to a small town really comes to life and I love that Jody's hometown is only ever referred to as 'Nuffing-On-The-Wold'.
I actually find reviews this positive much harder to write than the more critical ones as I feel like no words will possibly do justice to how great I think this book is. Although the issues of grief and drug addiction form much of the basis to the story there is also masses of humour to be had and the curly wurly incident alone had me laughing out loud. If you've ever had an obsessive love for anything and found that other people fail to understand your wavelength then this book is for you. It's sad, laugh out loud funny and has characters that will really stay with you. The ending was pitch perfect and for me only made more so by turning to the acknowledgements page and seeing that one of C.J. Skuse's band dedications was the Manic Street Preachers, holy hell that was the icing on an already delectable cake!
So that's it. I've tried to put into words how much I love this book and I hope that somewhere amongst this fragmented review that comes across. If you want something fresh and exciting then look no further, this book will give you more than you even knew you wanted.