I’m pumped about this great Jukebox review, which was published at Cherry Grrl today! Thanks Cherry Grrr!
If your love life had a soundtrack, what would the greatest hits be? “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles? “Heartbreak Hotel” by Whitney Houston? “I Was Made for Loving You” by Kiss? Would there be different songs for different people in your life, each important person creating a new track in the compilation of your life? In Gina Noelle Daggett’s debut novel, Jukebox, now available from Bella Books, the lives of two young women, Harper and Grace are told through music, the powerful gateway into the soul.
Gina Noelle Daggett, best known as the femme persona of the dynamic Curve Magazine duo Lipstick and Dipstick, carefully weaves the complex lives of Harper and Grace together into one pure symphony. From the first page of the novel, which happens to be a playlist of the various songs referenced throughout the story, the reader is drawn into a world where every event really does have a song and where the two women draw their inspiration. The story starts off with The Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun,” setting up the backgrounds of the two women and how they met playing tennis at a young age. As the story progressed and Harper and Grace bloomed into beautiful young women, the attraction between them was evident, but Daggett did a beautiful job keeping readers in suspense as to “will-they-won’t-they.”
We watch as Harper and Grace face grueling tennis opponents, are debuted as debutantes, and must face the frightening world known as adolescence, all the while being subtly wooed by the background music that makes this novel like no other. The challenges these two women must face aren’t unlike the ones many of us had to face growing up: growing attraction, not understanding the feelings and emotions involved in relationships, resolving to date men until the “right” one comes along. Daggett’s characters were well thought out and very true to life, making them dance off the page to the beat of the music that rises and swells through each chapter of their lives.
As Harper and Grace mature and start realizing their mutual attraction, the musical accompaniment deepens and matures as well. Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” and Janet Jackson’s “Again” mingle with the likes of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” and k.d. lang’s “Love is Everything” and I found myself creating my own iTunes playlist to listen to as I read. Both women have to overcome major struggles in their respective lives, but with Daggett’s creative style, not to mention her attention to detail and her ability to reach the reader on a deep emotional level, the ebbs and flows of Harper and Grace’s relationship now come with their own soothing soundtrack.
When we think about our lives, there are always certain people and certain events that define us. We all have that first love, who probably turned into the first heartbreak, the struggle to accept who were are, and the often-painful moments of coming out. In Jukebox, Gina Noelle Daggett blends those, along with countless other self-realizations and life-altering moments, together seamlessly using one of the most powerful forms of communication: music.