Page Count: 372
Publisher: Kensington Books
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via LibraryThing, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Back in the Eighties, Mickey DeFalco was America's teenage heartthrob with spiky gelled hair, slanted sideburns, and a number-one hit single—"Sweet Days"—a sappy love song he wrote after his high school sweetheart, Lynn Mahoney, broke his heart. Now approaching middle age, Mickey is lucky to land a singing gig at a bar mitzvah. So the one-hit wonder-boy is making a different kind of comeback—returning to his old stomping grounds in Queens, living with his parents, and sleeping in his childhood bed. Just like in high school. And speaking of blasts from the past, Lynn is also back in town—as beautiful, beguiling, and baffling as ever...What Stephanie Thought: Oh, be still, my beating heart. Want to be swept away with charm, the kind we haven't seen since recluses like J.D. Salinger or S.E. Hinton? Want to laugh until your lungs ache, or giggle like a schoolgirl? Then read One Hit Wonder. Funny, poignant, and unforgettable, One Hit Wonder joins the leagues of my "favorites" shelf. And not only because Mickey DeFalco is my newest character crush either.
Sometimes life can feel like a broken record. But even a one-hit wonder deserves a second chance.
Charlie Carillo writes in easy prose that doesn't take too much effort to enjoy. But rather than his writing style that is made prominent in this novel, it's the characters he creates that really shine. Even the supporting characters, even the antagonists—the "villains"—are made likable. Not in a way where I wish the attention is taken away from Mickey, but in a way that I want to meet ALL of them in real life.
No one can describe heartbreak better than a heartbroken man. And Mickey DeFalco was heartbroken twenty years ago; he still hasn't let go of the girl, though. Lynn Mahoney didn't just leave him—she disappeared. Everything had been going fine between her and Mickey, but she just vanished. Thus Mickey composed a song, a song only a girl like Lynn could appreciate, one that was heard by the wrong pair of ears and instantly made a #1 hit in the country. Mickey never asked for that kind of success, but with the numbness in his heart, he really couldn't tell the difference between fame and happiness.
Twenty years later, his song is all but forgotten, but he's a broke man who's just lost his pool-cleaning job. The solution? To go live with his parents in his hometown—the town where he lost Lynn Mahoney. I thought it was really interesting to really see what a one-hit wonder does after his success simmers. We all know of the ones from the eighties, and of the ones that are more recent. They're legends, but where are the physical people? One Hit Wonder gives a glimpse in the life of a former one-hit wonder, displaying how shockingly normal and uneventful it is.
To Mickey's dear fright, Lynn Mahoney is back in Queens after all those years too—finally. He attempts to rekindle the innocent childhood relationship they had, but she's more than reluctant, and Mickey's determined to find out why.
Personal tragedy, loss, and misconception are all illustrated penetratingly in Carillo's novel, with plenty of wit and humor to spare. I think anyone will enjoy reading about a celebrity who was once on top, then very abruptly fell to rock bottom.
The only reason I'm not giving One Hit Wonder ten hearts is because some of it seems unrealistic. There are about fifteen random women Mickey describes having sex with throughout his lifetime. At first, it's pretty amusing, but I got weary of it quickly because his "game" got stale after the first five times he described it.
Other than that, Carillo's One Hit Wonder is one of those books you'll start reading immediately after you finish it—yes, it's that good.
Stephanie Loves: "I played ["Sweet Days"] twice a day—once at the early show, then again at the later one. The rest of my repertoire included songs my the Carpenters, Captain & Tennille, The Commodores... love songs, nothing but love songs, one more dreadful than the next.
It was what was known in the business as an Insulin Set. You needed an injection of the stuff at the end of the night to prevent a diabetic coma from all those sugary sounds."