Here is compilation of reviews, as well as snippets from readers. I’ve received many wonderful emails from readers about Jukebox. Thank you to everyone who has not only taken the time to read Jukebox, but also write me personally. They’ve each meant so much.
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.
– By Christina Hoar from Cherry Grrl
What a charming love story with a message – two messages if you count the song titles that tie into the book chapters, and in turn, to the relationship between Harper and Grace. The important message to take away from this lush coming of age story is that the closet is toxic… It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel.
– By Reviewer Teresa DeCrescenzo, Lesbian News (Feb 2011)
Nostalgic and Beautiful
What were your dreams as a child? What did you want to be when you grew up? Who were your friends? How did you decide how you would interact with others? How you would structure your relationships? What influenced your life? When did you 1st consciously find another person attractive? A woman? Admit you might be different than your society thought you should be?
These are the types of profound life events this novel leads you through, and prompts you to remember. It’s full of life and living, drama, textured characters and emotions, angst and love. The careful, yet lovely, vibrant prose paints a picture of depth and authenticity that was an absolute pleasure to read.
Even though no two people really live the exact same life, there is something so genuine about how the characters Harper and Grace–growing up together as privileged debutantes in Arizona, with all the pressures and expectations that go along with it–unselfconsciously form a deep bond that they never label or question. It just is. Until they are forced to decide, suddenly as individuals, what their relationship truly means to them as adults.
Not heavy or graphic on the sex, though it’s certainly there. Not as fluffy as some beach books, but neither is there a tragic ending, or too much angst that would keep me from reading it on vacation. The emotions often seem to have more weight or realism than you typically find in a book you’re reading for pure escapism, but I definitely wouldn’t let that put you off if you’re looking for a fine book to spend time with.
Brilliant emotional and sensory journey. Satisfying conclusion.
-By B. Rabkeb in Seattle, WA (Amazon)
Eleven year old Grace Dunlop has it all, a privileged lifestyle with a big trust fund. She meets Harper Alessi after her family moved from London to the USA. The two girls become best friends. They go through coming out as debutantes and college together. Along the way, their relationship begins to turn to a more passionate one than either girl is prepared for. After all, neither girl is gay, are they? They both struggle with their feelings and the fact that it is 1984 should make a difference, but it doesn’t. The jukebox plays on and decisions have to be made that will alter the course of both girls lives forever.
This is an excellent first book and hopefully the first of many. A mixture of heartbreak, humor and romance. A real page turner. Definitely a book I would read again and again. I only hope we don’t have to wait a decade for Gina’s next book.
– By TerryB “Lesfic fan” in Truro, UK
I thoroughly enjoyed Jukebox. I confess to approaching it with some quiet angst, thinking that there was no way in hell’s half acre that I’d be able to identify with sorority girls from Arizona. As I got in to the book, I worried it was going to be all sex…which again, is something I can’t relate to. Jukebox concluded for me at about 2 am this morning, and I wasn’t able to sleep after I was done. I didn’t realize that it had such a hold on me, but I raced to the end and was completely delighted, so much so that I now need to read it again so that I can actually savour the book.
Thanks so much! I wish I had words to tell you what a good book means to me these days. Here in Port au Prince, I have a sketchy internet connection, no TV…. The book is fantastic, and it transported me completely out of my little patch of the third world. It more than gripped me. Throttled would be more like it. It was really a great read…and seriously, if i’m plugged into the story, that should prove the universality of the message because i’m such a hardbitten cynic, especially where love is concerned.
– Email from Soldier in Haiti
From Chile, where Picacho River is located, congratulations on your novel! I had an excellent time reading it and really enjoyed it. I read it in two days…
The novel hit me hard because I am not out yet, but planning to work on it during this year. I am scared.
Just for you to know, I am a Chilean lawyer that got a Fulbright Scholarship which allow me to attend UCLA Law School and eventually get an LLM degree there (with special mention in environmental law). I have worked a lot in environmental law in Chile and have a very good friend who attended Lewis & Clark Law School some years ago. So, your book have a lot of coincidences with somebody from “the end of the world”
I did not like that Harper’s parents died here. But I assume that for you in the US, the Patagonia is quite far away and kind of exotic. That’s ok.
Thank you for your book. It was VERY GOOD for me to read it. It helped.
I wish you success in your career. We definitively need people like you.
A decade is a long time. But, if the product of that period (your novel) is the possibility (or reality in this case) of touching and moving somebody that you do not know who lives in the other part of the world, that is quite something. It is a kind of “power” that very few talented people have. And you have it.
– Email from a reader in Chile
I wanted to take the time to let you know how moved I was by your novel “Jukebox.” I have been familiar with your Lipstick column in Curve and liked your sense of humor so I thought I’d give your book a try last week. However, after reading the back cover I wasn’t sure I would be that into it. A story about 2 fems (I’m not that fem) who come from money (I do not at all), but I went with it anyway and I’m so glad I did!
Although I can’t relate to some of it, other parts of your book took me by surprise. My grandmother is wealthy and lives in Scotsdale, AZ and can’t stand me because I am gay so I have been cut out of the will long ago. My lesbian aunt lives in Portland, OR so I consider that to be my home away from home. My family is Italian as well. I’m also an artist. You described those places so well that I felt I was right there with the characters. I was amazed at that actually. You have such an eye for detail. I was really impressed.
The characters themselves and their lives made me cry at times. You made their story so real that I hurt with them throughout the story whether I had anything in common with them or not. I read your book in 3 days and couldn’t put it down. Such a sad tale, but a good one. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book I’ve really felt a connection with. It takes true talent to create characters and a story that people can connect to like that.
I read in your bio that it took you almost a decade (I think that’s right, but maybe not) to complete your book. I dabble in writing too, but can only seem to write short stories because it’s too hard for me to keep going like you did. Thank you for not giving up on your novel. The finished product is truly amazing and you should be proud of it, as I’m sure you are. It’s really good!
I’m also super excited that you’ll be making it into a film as well! I can’t wait until it comes out 🙂 Good luck and thank you once again for your beautiful and touching first novel. May it not be your last!
– Email from reader in the US
It’s not that Jukebox, Gina Daggett’s debut novel, tells a story that’s never been told before. It’s not that she brings new twists to the lesbian love song that we’ve never heard before.
But Daggett’s voice is new, her take her own, her characters courageous and fresh. Together, they elevate Jukebox beyond the usual formula and make it a story worth sharing.
– Robin Perelle in Xtra (Vancouver, BC newspaper)
This eloquently written novel was crafted in such a way that I quickly lost myself in the story and became deeply moved by the undeniable, steadfast love between Grace and Harper. A beautiful and tender love story!
– By Pretty Pants Kitty on Amazon.com
An amazing first time accomplishment for Daggett! Such an entertaining, fast paced, original novel but even more a wonderful love story. A great read for any woman no matter sexual preference or age. I love her attention to detail and incredible talent for making me feel as if i was in the living room of all the characters.
– By Racket Strings on Amazon.com
Just dropping a line to let you know that I really enjoyed “Jukebox”, in fact it is one of my favourite books I’ve read out of the couple of dozen or so that I’ve read during the last couple of months I found it absolutely engrossing and moving and extremely well written with a wonderfully well rounded plot. I really liked your strong multi dimensional characters and your excellent character development, and I loved the interplay with the Jukebox.
Am glad to see on your website that you are planning on bringing this story to the big screen. I shall be very interested to see who you cast…No doubt the film will be occupying most of your time and energies, but I was wondering if you are planning on writing anymore novels in the future? I sincerely hope so.
– Email from a reader in Australia
What a great story, one that needs to be shared with others who have been or know friends who have been in similar situations. This author has a way for creating believable characters, and describing their experiences in a way that the reader feels like they are a part of the story. As I read the book, I felt like I lived in their moment, visited the places where the scenes took place, and heard the same music. How innovative to use songs as the communication of their relationship through the entire story. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing it on the big screen someday soon! And when does her next book come out?
– By Nen3 on Amazon.com
I read ALOT of ebooks, I came across this new author on Bellabooks website. This is one of the most intense and beautifully well written stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. I loved the ending and would love a sequel. Please, let this writer know her work is fabulous and I look forward to more of her work.
– Email sent to my literary agent
I just started your book last week and finished this weekend. I absolutely loved your book! I can honestly say that you did a fabulous job of recreating the angst and trials of coming into one’s sexual identity. What a wonderful love story and thank you for writing it for your readers. Cliche as it may sound- I could not put the novel down! The journey of their love was mesmerizing. I look forward to your second novel!
– Note from reader in Vancouver, BC through Facebook