Love, Music, Madness
This book is so aptly titled that it makes me smile every time. It truly is about love, music and how those two can descend you into madness. Argh, it’s just such a clever title that I salute Tabitha Rhys and this simple, yet absolutely genius touch to a book that I ended up absolutely loving.
Love, Music, Madness was brought to my attention by this here parish (aka Narrative Muse). Not only have we created an excellent matchmaking system, but the people who make NM work are little human-to-book matchmakers themselves as well. Now, I must admit, I am a stubborn book recommendation taker. I love, love, love giving people recommendations but as soon as someone says “here, read this. You will love this”, I feel iffy. This is where the stubbornness comes in. I usually go into the book thinking, you’re not the boss of me - I’ll find out for myself how good this book really is. Stupid, I know. So I am incredibly pleased to say that even with this solely reader-imposed hurdle on it, I thought Love, Music, Madness was absolutely wonderful.
It is the story of Lawson Harper, a young man who is working at a pizza restaurant to help pay his family’s bills. His mum hasn’t been well since his dad left them and his sister is still young, so all the responsibility falls to Lawson. Enter Jessa, the local girl that had so much talent she was sure to be the one to ‘make it,' but has ended up back in town. Their musical (and physical) chemistry is instant. So when Jessa kisses Lawson after their first jam session and then promptly takes off her top, he thinks he is in heaven. But life can’t be that easy, can it? Jessa screws up and Lawson leaves for LA. Their paths cross again but madness lurks on the outskirts of their relationship and career together, and things will get a lot worse before they get better.
This book is filled with characters who just feel so damn real. Lawson is quiet, passionate and talented but he isn’t always in control of his emotions. Jessa is fiery and determined but slightly shut off from the world. She also has rotten luck with men. This combination, as you might have guessed, doesn’t go so well. Lawson gets another girlfriend but never gets over Jessa. Jessa remains aloof and is in it for the music. Sparks may fly, but sparks create fire and boy does this book come to an explosive conclusion.
Love, Music, Madness is a fast read. I think I finished it in two days and, wowsers, it was a rollercoaster for me. I love books about relationships. In life and in literature, I love watching people interact and seeing how they treat one another. It’s fascinating (not stalkerish, I promise) and beautiful. Lawson and Jessa are that relationship that your friend tells you about and you immediately want to fix. You know the one, the one that makes you suck air through your teeth and makes the alarm bells go off: not good. Not good. Not good. But, thankfully, this was not real life and so I could keep reading and not suffer any of the consequences.
I love music but had no real clue about the underground dance music scene in LA. I know nothing about sound mixing, producing tunes or what it takes to get your music signed on by a record label. I found this element of the book really fascinating. It made me wish that I had spent more time at clubs and had sought out more of those super unheard of bands and gigs. Mind you, I grew up in New Zealand which doesn’t have as large a hive of talent and musical opportunities. It might not have been the same sort of scene as the book depicted.
As for the madness element... I, thankfully, have not lost control of my grip on reality but I do know about feeling low. It was this last act that was very hard to read. I wanted to leap into the pages and sit with the characters and walk them through the pain but that was clearly impossible and so I had to suffer through it with them. Beware, Rhys writes a savage ending that left me reeling.
Clearly, I loved this book. It is an impeccable three act play that played with my emotions, tickled my heart strings and had me clicking ‘next page’ on my Kindle so fast that the little symbol that shows you how much you’ve read in one sitting could barely keep up. Bravo Ms. Rhys. Please write something else soon.