Welcome to my stop on the Please, Pretty Lights Blog Tour hosted by Girls Heart Book Tours. Click here to follow along with the full tour schedule.
Title: Please, Pretty Lights
Author: Ina Zajac
Publication date: July 16th 2014
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Source: Review copy
It's September when Via Sorenson stumbles into a Seattle strip club, drunk and alone on her twenty-first birthday. Mattias and Nick - best friends, bandmates, and bouncers - can see she's not like the other girls and do their best to shield her from their shady, sadistic, cocaine-trafficking boss, Carlos. They don't realize her daddy issues come with a forty-million-dollar trust fund and a legacy she would do anything to escape.
She is actually the adult version of Violetta Rabbotino, the tragic little girl who had been all over the news ten years earlier when her father, an acclaimed abstract artist, came home in a rage, murdered her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Violetta was spared, hidden behind the family Christmas tree, veiled by the mysticism of its pretty lights whose unadulterated love had captivated and calmed her.
Now, desperate to shed her role as orphaned victim, Via is attempting to recast herself as a party girl by stage diving into a one-hundred-day adventure with Matt and Nick, the bassist and drummer of popular nineties cover band Obliviot. At first the rock-and-roll lifestyle is the perfect distraction. She gets high on true love, but the rush terrifies her. As Christmas looms closer, she can no longer deny her demented past. But how will she ever untangle herself from her twisted string of pretty lights?
Warning: Recommended for mature audiences due to explicit language, sexual content, and drug use.
What initially drew me to Please, Pretty Lights was the music scene. I love most of the bands from the 90's mentioned in this story - they make up the soundtrack of my high school years, getting me through the teenage angst and making me feel as though I was invincible. Against the backdrop of the Seattle music scene, Via's story came to life.
In the beginning of Please, Pretty Lights, when Via meets with her uncle, I couldn't help thinking how lifeless this character seemed as though someone had sucked all the joy from her life. Just in this short scene, I learned much about her. I knew she was an interesting character with a lot going on internally and was protecting herself from outward scrutiny of the trauma she suffered early in life. She was going through the motions without really and truly living. But most of all she was on the precipice of self-destruction, hanging by a thread.
I could identify with Via's yearning to escape her past and find a new way to live that might make her feel alive and happy. Her internal debate with what she wanted to do versus what she thought she should do was so realistic it was almost painful. Although I definitely didn't agree with some of the choices she made, especially those that put her in danger (I was scared for her at times), I didn't want her to remain imprisoned by her childhood trauma either. The choices she ended up making landed her in a downward spiral of self-destruction - easy to fall into but so hard to leave.
I definitely don't mean to romanticize this story. It's dark and gritty with a glimpse into the world of drugs and stripping. Reading Via's story was at times downright heartbreaking, but I couldn't look away. I didn't even think about looking away. She was already closer to spiraling out of control than I think even she knew. That thread she had been hanging from didn't take much to snap.
Please, Pretty Lights is about much more than sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. It's a story about reinventing yourself. It's about running from your past even knowing it'll eventually catch up with you. It's about living life freely without being chained down by the expectations of others. And most of all, it's about a broken young woman named Via who's only trying to find her way in this world. In the end I think you can agree with me that's what we're all trying to do, and there's a little bit of each of us in these characters and this story.
Ina Zajac is an award-winning journalist, avid people watcher, and lover of quirk and contrast. Her writing is heavily influenced by her fascination with music, art, and her hometown of Seattle.
Blog Tour organized by: