Book Review: How to Kill a Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo

5 Stars for this One!113791

Here’s another post I just had to get in before the end of the year. It rounds out my top books for 2012! (Well, with one caveat – I don’t think I will get to Dirty Red by Tarryn Fisher until after the holidays)  Believe me, I do realize how late in the game I am with this one  – I read this book way back when Maryse was recommending all of those Rock Star books. No other book of that genre has impacted me in the same way. So this review is a tribute to that.

Tiffanie DeBartolo is a genius.  Not only because her writing is eloquent and expressive but because she takes a rock star book and finds a way to weave a beautiful love story in the middle of it. Her main characters are authentic, genuine and so imperfect. I’m not even sure if Paul is that hot.  I love the fact that he is older, so this story also had me because it wasn’t a typical YA romance. If you knew how old I was, you’d get what I am trying to say.

Paul and Eliza meet and fall in love as his success as the lead singer of a band called Bananafish is rising. All they know is that they want to be together. All his band manager knows is that Paul must make and sell records. He doesn’t care about selling records, but Eliza knows that music is his life and wants him to be happy.  Soon, Paul will have to leave for months to go on tour with the band. They both make sacrifices that spin the story twice on its tail end and throw us all in for a loop.

The story is told from the point of view of both Paul and Eliza. Eliza’s storytelling is emotional but vivid. She is sensible and practical, she sees things as they are. There is a sense of melancholy in her tone all throughout the story. The tragedy of losing her parents in the 9/11 attack influences the choices that she has made in her life. But with Paul, she feels safe. She gives in to the gamble of loving him despite his outspokenness and all his eccentricities.

“Tell me what you’re scared of.”

“Getting left behind.”

“I’m not going to leave you behind.”

 Paul’s perspective is often humorous and snide. There are so many laugh out loud moments from references that Paul makes from calling his manager “the devil with cocoon eyebrows” to him “getting more respect as a shirt folder than as a rock star”. From the beginning of the story, we can tell that he is quirky and strange. He believes what he believes and nothing or no one can change his mind.

“Personally, I don’t like inherently happy people. I don’t trust them. I think there’s something seriously wrong with anyone who isn’t at least a little let down by the world.”

He talks into a tape recorder that he fondly addresses as “tape recorder”.  He believes he is dying from pancreatic cancer. He falls hard and fast in love with Eliza and has an intense need to be with her forever. He fights hard to remain true to his art and his music. He refuses to give in to the commercialism that surrounds the making and selling of records.  He is so uncomfortable with his success that he fights through the trappings of fame and recognition every step of the way. None of this means anything to him without Eliza. And that’s the thing that makes this story so heartbreaking. His pain at losing Eliza is so physically tangible, we experience his death on the day that she leaves him.

“Break my heart? Is that what you just said? I have news for you; you didn’t break my heart. My heart’s fine. My heart’s in the best shape of its life. You know what you did to me? You took an AK-47 and blew my soul open.”

 There are numerous symbolisms sprinkled throughout the story. To me, Eliza’s brother Michael suffered the same loss that Eliza did but decided to take another turn with his life. Loring is everything that Paul is not. Her love for Paul is reaffirmed after she can’t bring herself to fall in love with Loring. The crucifix on the wall is for death and suffering in the name of others.  Eliza resolved not to be the “Yoko” in Paul’s music career. Eliza’s fear of flying drives home her need to remain grounded in more ways than one. She can’t fly around the country with him on his tour, but she also knows that she needs to let him go.

 There are so many more things I can write about this book. But short of divulging some spoilers, I think I will leave it at this:  When a writer has you feeling choked up with emotion as you read every word in the book, you know you have been touched by it and will never be the same. And when the last page has been turned and your smile is so wide that the tears in your eyes fall right into your mouth, you know you have just read a book that you will remember for a very long time.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sarahbeth81
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 17:23:40

    This was an awesome review. I loved this book and legitimately sobbed through the last few pages of it. But its one that I reread ALL THE TIME. ❤


  2. Tosha
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 12:21:46

    One of my all time favorites!!! Great review, Nina!


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