Bryan Spencer is the lead singer in an L.A.-based rock band. Following the OD of Brodie, his oldest friend and fellow band member, Bryan’s manager sends him to Maple Fork, Alabama for some rest and quiet time.
Callie Lawson and her friend Tonya are partners in a bookstore, and when Bryan comes in to buy some books, he and Callie “meet cute”.
Tonya is a mystery writer trying to work out a plot point, and has tied Callie up. Bryan enters and playing along, asks about handcuffs and chains. He goes on to make a purchase and returns later to ask Callie to lunch.
Soon they are spending time together as friends, attracted to one another, but not acting on the attraction. I think that a large part of that is because Callie needs a friend just as much as Bryan does: outside of the bookstore and the band, neither has much of a personal life.
Callie has Tonya and her family, and Brian had Brodie, but that’s about it. Bryan is trying to come to terms with Brodie’s death and the role he feels he played in his addiction. Callie has spent the past five years building her business and is only now at the point where she can afford to hire help and consider her plans for expansion.
They begin to get to know one another and discover the things they have in common, like football, fishing, and a love of science fiction. As their relationship changes and expands to include the other people in their lives, tensions, stereotypes, and prejudices flare up, but more on that later.
I like Callie; she’s independent, focused on her goals, and is quite happy to live in a small town while admitting that she might have more opportunities in a larger city. She wants to be a good role model for her younger sisters, and she’s got old-school parents.
Her life isn’t a series of disappointments wrapped in tragedy, there are no crazy exes or psycho killers out to get her, and no manufactured drama. In short, she’s a lot of women that I know. Callie does have faults, and her biggest one is that she likes to be in control, and if she’s not, she doesn’t always handle it well.
Bryan comes pre-packaged with drama and baggage; as a rock star; it’s almost part of the job description. Brodie was his oldest friend and his writing/composing partner, so he feels his death doubly. Bryan grew up with a neglectful, abusive mother, and at one point, Bryan contemplates his past relationships and his lack of physical affection growing up.
That lack caused him to overreact, like a little kid squeezing a puppy, and he had to learn to temper his responses or risk freaking out the women he dated. In spite of his earlier life, Bryan does have a familial relationship with his bandmates, Twist and Jon, manager, B.T., and B.T.’s wife Maria even calls Bryan her son.
One perceived issue/complaint that I’ve seen about interracial romances is that they are all “race books”, and the entire plot revolves around how it won’t work out because of race and on and on. I will say that even in the Age of Obama, race is still an issue, but for varying reasons.
Loving vs. Virginia was only 40 years ago, and while interracial dating itself might not be as big a deal as it once was, some underlying issues, such as history and racial stereotypes may come into play. Rock Star does attempt to address some of those issues, specifically the White man/Black woman dynamic, and in this case, rich and famous White man with “unknown” Black woman.
While race is part of the conflict, it’s not the only part. As stated, Bryan is rich and famous, while Callie is a small-town Bama girl. Bryan has groupies and has had lots of sex, and while Callie is not a virgin, she doesn’t get around.
The only “aw, man” I had while reading were some instances of telling not showing was when Callie and Bryan were hanging out as friends. We got to read that they liked fishing, and that they did all these fun things together as they became friends, but we didn’t actually see them doing any of it.
I really enjoyed this book. Some of the conversations and incidents between the characters were so funny, and yet so true to what happens in real life, not just between blacks and whites, but men and women, dads and boyfriends, and your group of friends. I don’t think that there was one character I didn’t like, and even the momentary villain was redeemed to some extent. Solid B.