Book Review: Radio Girl by Carol Brendler
Fourteen-year-old Cece's dream of a career as a radio star gets off to a bumpy, hilarious start in this engaging historical novel marked by mix-ups and misunderstandings that culminate in the panic surrounding the 1938 broadcast of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.
My Take in 3 Parts
The synopsis is such a simple sentence for such an non-simple book. Radio Girl is one of those novels that handles so many things, like teen rebellion, infidelity, treatment of women in the 1930s, and the callousness of those in show business. It is complex and engaging, especially for someone like me who actually KNOWS about Orson Welles' broadcast of War of the Worlds and the ensuing chaos that erupted.
What might seem like a teen novel, actually doesn't fall under any specific genre. Radio Girl's plot downfall, if it has one, is that it doesn't fit anywhere, not in children's, not in YA, and not in adult. It merely fits in with those few who are addicted to 1930s fiction and don't mind reading a comedic yet solemn novel from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl who really is a bit snarky and underhanded to get what she wants.
It's almost impossible to say that I love Cece Maloney. But I empathize with her, even while not agreeing with her decisions. She rebels against what she views as the harsh rule of her mother, a mother who is simply trying to protect her only child. Cece does a lot of lying to get what she wants, but thankfully, she learns from her choices and a few important relationships that were damaged during the course of the book end up being healed at the end.
As for the rest of the characters, love the sensitivity and protectiveness of Cece's mom, found Cece's 17-year-old aunt with fanatical Catholicism to be fascinating, and enjoyed getting to know some of the staff at the broadcasting station where Cece found a part-time job on Saturdays.
All of the characters felt authentic and true to the era, right down to the snappy dialogue constantly in use by Cece and her friends.
Carol Brendler is a comedic genius. While yes, Radio Girl is a serious bit of fiction, it is also crammed to the gills with light-hearted humor that only comes from an equally light-hearted individual. I would give anything, literally anything, for her to write another book in the same era!
My Final Thoughts
I'd already read Radio Girl last year, and was absolutely tickled to unwrap it as a Christmas present this year, giving me an excuse to re-read it! Like I said before, it's a complex little book that doesn't quite fit in any fictional genre, but I love it, every page of it.
If I were to warn readers of anything, it's to not follow in Cece's footsteps by utilizing her type of subterfuge. Fortunately, consequences are a necessary part of life, and she suffers the consequences for her actions without them being too serious, and learning from her mistakes. Plus, any novel that presents the great Orson Welles as a secondary character is bound to be a hit in my book!
Keep in mind, this isn't a Christian book, so you have a little bit of swearing (very little), mild thematic elements, and some adulterous relationships going on, always with negative consequences, to say nothing of Cece's lying. But please, don't let any of these things stop you from giving Radio Girl a try! After all, people aren't perfect, and Carol Brendler does a stupendous job of conveying that truth!
|The Late, Great Orson Welles!|