Thirteen-year-old Danielle Callanzano knows that real life isn’t like the movies. If it was, she wouldn’t be stuck in her boring upstate New York town suffering the after effects of her parents’ recent divorce with no one to call and no cell reception even if she did. (Her best friend Maya moved to Poughkeepsie three months ago.) Luckily, the Little Art movie theater’s theme this year is “Summer of Noir,” so Dani can escape the pain of her mom’s depression and her dad’s deception by sneaking into Theatre 1 and watching Rita Hayworth slink her black and white way across the screen. But the thing about movies is that they end, and when they do, Dani is right back to having to deal with her feelings. Until she notices the mysterious girl in the polka-dot tights who seems to be hanging around the projection booth of the Little Art–the projection booth where cute, seventeen-year-old Jackson works. Jackson is dating Dani’s beloved older babysitter Elissa, but the girl in the polka-dot is definitely NOT Elissa. Determined to find out if Jackson is cheating on Elissa the way her father cheated on her mom, Dani launches her own investigation, trusting no one to tell her the truth. “If there’s anything I’ve learned from noir movies it’s that everyone lies about something. And if you lie about one thing, what’s to say you didn’t lie about it all?” The only problem is that if you don’t trust anyone, it’s pretty hard to make friends. As she gets closer and closer to the truth, Dani has to decide if solving the mystery is worth alienating her neighborhood peeps in the process. Instead of asking, “What would Rita Hayworth do?” Dani needs to ask herself some hard questions about privacy, friendship and forgiveness. Because “this is what’s happening in my real life, right now, the one I’m living. I don’t want to miss a thing…” This delightful debut novel had me at hello, with Dani’s snarky and endlessly quotable narration that begged to be Twittered. I had to restrain myself from tweeting lines like “Rita Hayworth would have eaten Jessica Alba alive,” or this astute observation of a femme fatale: “A femme fatale would have a sleek black phone…she’d set the ringer to silent. And she’d get calls all the time, but she’d rarely answer. What femme fatale would?” I welcome this original voice with open arms, and I can’t wait to see what Nova Ren Suma does next!
Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma