I was drawn to Nova Ren Suma's debut novel DANI NOIR the moment I caught sight of its title and attention-grabbing covers. Thanks to my love of pink, polka dot tights, and noir cinema, I found a new favorite author and another great addition for the keeper shelf.
Dani's having a rough summer dealing with the fallout of her parents' divorce. It's horrible watching her dad move on (and in) with his girlfriend, knowing her best has moved to a town more than an hours' drive away, and feeling so lonely she's actually starting to miss her annoying brother who's gone off to soccer camp.
Dani's only solace comes when she enters the Little Art and disappears into the moody, atmospheric mysteries of noir films. There's a comfort in walking away from the theater knowing exactly who the good and bad guys are, not to mention hanging out with the projectionist and her former baby-sitter's new boyfriend, Jackson. Being left alone and not asked stupid questions like: "How are you *feeling* about your parents divorce?" is almost worth the hassle of getting past her classmate and Jackson's younger cousin, Austin. Until one day when Dani catches Jackson in a lie about a mysterious girl in pink, polka dot tights she spies leaving through the theater's fire exit. Now Dani is on the trail of a real-life puzzle, but off screen mysteries almost never wrap up as neatly as those in movies.
Every character in DANI NOIR is so real, with their fallibility and raw emotions - especially Dani. I didn't always like her - at times she's bratty, even downright mean - but I understood the reasons for her behavior. Her entire world has been destroyed by the people she loves and trust more than anyone else. It's one of life's most difficult experiences and in it's the aftermath of suspicion that sets Dani on the mystery girl's trail.
Nova Ren Suma transported me to Dani's world: the tedious heat small town summers; nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to see. I *was* Dani, sweating in front Taco Juan's while peering down the street towards my mother's office at newspaper headquarters, the mountains off in the distance. sun beating mercilessly on my aching head. What a relief to escape my sadness and worries in cool comfort of celluloid, where dames are glamorous, private eyes know all and problems are solved in under two hours.
Originally written for and posted at TeensReadToo