Neighborhood Press, $12.99, ISBN 189310851-1
Contemporary Fiction, 2000
Embarrassing confession: I have watched the 1983 rock-and-roll movie Eddie and the Cruisers five times (the 1989 sequel sucks though, no matter how cute Michael Paré can be).
Coming Home reminds me of that movie, not because the story is similar, but like that movie, it chronicles the life in the tumultuous world of the music industry. This story is about a woman’s rise in the music business and her love life in that biz and out of it. There’s plenty of drama, from the rise to the sags in the middle of the journey, the heartaches, the joys, et cetera.
The heroine is Casey Bradley. She marries her young sweetheart Danny Fiore, who is an aspiring singer. She writes the songs and music that bring out the best from Danny’s vocals, and they dream big. Soon, they move to New York, where Danny soon becomes the lead singer of a hot band. Things get bumpy. Meanwhile, Rob MacKenzie, their best buddy and guitarist of the band, becomes Casey’s writing partner. He’s their best friend.
Then tragedy occurs, leaving Casey and Rob, who until now just can’t get the marriage thing right at all, to do something about their chemistry.
This story is divided into four parts, or “books”, and the thing is, the characters never really come to life for me until Book Three. Books One and Two are very busy chapters, but they never really let me know the characters. It’s like watching strangers dash past me day after day, or maybe it’s like me reading the autobiography of someone I don’t know or care about. So Danny, Rob, and Casey achieve stardom. A weak yay. So what’s for dinner?
Book Three, when the drama and tragedies start to happen, are where the good things start to take place. The author slows down to tell me what the characters think, what motivate them, and what make them tick. Just when I am starting to care for Danny and Casey, the author has to create a tragedy. The character development is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I’m glad I care for them. On the other hand, it’s easier to read about tragedies featuring cardboard cutouts than characters that I care. Still, it’s good that there’s character development.
At the end of the day, Books One and Two are average, while Books Three and Four are where the good stuff are. Coming Home is a very good read towards the end, and I wish the author has sustained that pace throughout.