Cherry Bomb, the debut novel from Australian music journalist Jenny Valentish, is a roller coaster ride through the world of fame, sex, drugs and most importantly, rock and roll. Seen through the eyes of twenty-one year old Nina Dall, the novel tells the story of the rise to fame and inevitable fall of the Dolls, a band that Nina formed as a teenager with her cousin Rose. Running alongside the Dolls own rise to fame is the story of their Aunt, Alannah Dall who is trying to make a career comeback and who may just be a little bit threatened by her nieces and their rise to fame.
Cherry Bomb offers readers a no-holes-barred view of the Australian music industry as it is at present--from the indignity of the Dolls having to perform at the local shopping centre to their eventual success overseas--as well as giving an account of Nina's own troubled upbringing and her personal difficulties surrounding addiction and overcoming child sexual abuse. There is also the interesting backstory of Alannah, her dealings with her family and just who and what she is willing to sacrifice to get what she wants. Alannah's own story allows readers the chance to have a glimpse at the history of Australian music and at a look at the music scene in the days before Australian Idol, YouTube etc. The author offers some brilliant insights into human nature and I found that even some of the minor characters, such as Hank to be well-drawn. With all that said (and there is lots in this book to like,) I struggled slightly with the narrative in places and found the lists and reviews that appeared within the middle of chapters to be a little distracting. (Though I do love the soundtrack at the end.) Overall though it is an well written book with an interesting and well executed plot.
Shout out to Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room for my review copy.