A slow fade-in on my life.
So begins Nova Ren Suma’s Dani Noir, a gem of a first novel. Thirteen-year-old Dani lives in a small New York State town where, it seems, nothing much happens. She’s become addicted to the old movies shown at the local Little Art movie theater, in particular, those of the noir sort — The Third Man, Double Indemnity, Notorious, etc. Now I’m a big fan of old movies, but a kid today? Well, I was convinced immediately. A completely contemporary kid (with a crappy un-noirish pink cell phone ), Dani has for a number of very real reasons become fixated on these old films. And what a voice! Fresh, noirish as only a thirteen-year-old could be, I was quickly and completely drawn in.
Surrounded by a cast of well-rendered and often-but-not-always sympathetic characters, Dani is coping with life during a torpid summer, having been hit by a number of painful personal setbacks involving family and friends. As a result she becomes over-focused on film noir and, in particular, Rita Hayworth. Nova Ren Suma does an impressive job having Dani tell bits and pieces of her favorite films as they parallel, clarify, confuse, or otherwise bring out elements in her story.
This delightful book came out of the blue for me. I knew nothing about it when a publicist contacted me through this blog and asked me if I wanted a copy. The description intrigued me so I said sure and am very glad I did. A completely charming book, Dani Noir is due out this fall; keep an eye out for it.