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Appelez-Moi, Fille de Dimanche

Meagan Brothers' Debbie Harry Sings In French can call Meghan on the line, anytime, and any day or night. 

Appelez-Moi, Fille de Dimanche

BOOK REPORT for Debbie Harry Sings In French by Meagan Brothers

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Nick Hornby, You're Wanted In the Principal's Office
Bonus Factors: Blondie, High Fidelity
Relationship Status: Call Me

The Deal:

Johnny's dad dies in a car crash when Johnny's just a lonely 12-year-old with a rockin' cool babysitter, and as his mom slides off the deep end into depression, unemployment and massive weight gain (although this ain't Gilbert Grape, yo), Johnny simultaneously manages to keep them from being evicted AND ends up a closet alcoholic. Fast-forward to high school, and an accidental OD in a club (owned by his ex-babysitter and her record store-owning husband), and Johnny's shipped off to rehab by his newly "saved" mother, where he discovers Debbie Harry, then to South Carolina to live with his dad's brother and 11-yo cousin, Bug, where he discovers the liberating freedom of blonde wigs and dresses.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Y'all, Johnny's TOTALLY adorbs. Like, he has this tendency to blurt out what he's thinking without meaning to, and it's so cute, especially when he kind of obsesses over it later. I just want to hug him LOTS. and he's not an annoying waster like lots of those I knew in high school. He's got TOTES problems to deal with, and comes through like a champ, plus the dude has principles. And a cutie cute sense of style (and great taste in music). He so gets my bff charm, and I also have his back against the jerkwads who go to his fancy prep school in SC.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

There's chemistry between Maria and Johnny -- the awkwardness of trying to make conversation by yr locker, and figuring out if the cool girl likes you, but it's not as sizzling as in some books. I don't know if it's cos it's from a boy's perspective but written by a girl, or if it's just cos of all the HEAVY shizz that's swirling around in Johnny's and Maria's lives and y'all, that'll overshadow any tingly "OMG she touched my hand!!" thoughts. And while there's some major YOU-KNOW-WHAT going on later, it's just really, REALLY sweet -- not WHOA. So even though it gets only a 6, it's a good 6, and fits the book.

Talky Talk: Nick Hornby, You're Wanted In the Principal's Office

Oh, sweet Johnny, you're like a little Rob in training. I can see you bumbling into Rob's record store (except, you know, you're not in the same country, but whatevs) and having him take you under his wing and shield you from Barry's obnoxious behavior since he can see the glimmers of good taste in you. You're no hipster wannabe, and (I don't think) neither's Meagan Brothers. Sure, the book's peppered with musical references and is one great big ode to vinyl, but the music's good, and it's not the kind of music that "OMG now it's been mentioned in a book so I'm SOOOOO over them and they've sold out". I mean, Blondie. But y'all, do you even KNOW the awesomeness of Debbie Harry? Oops, this was about the talky talk. So Johnny's adorable clumsy navigation of love and life remind me sooo much of Nick Hornby's Sweet Heroes (and this is like the HIGHEST compliment, cos he's my absolute favorite FAVORITE dude author of grown-up books). Plus, the relationship Johnny has with Debbie is similar (but not at all a rip-off or even a fan reference) to the kid in Slam and tony hawk. And I think Brothers very deftly balances the life suckiness without making this a hard-core depressing book at all. In fact, from the description I was expecting a wrenching sexuality book like Julie Ann Peter's Luna or any number of alt-sexuality books aimed at teens that are all about the hard life, but this one was much ... not lighter, exactly, but WAY less emo, I guess. I mean, YES, Johnny catches shit about sexuality (news flash: not all transvestites are gay), but he deals in such a mature way.

Bonus Factor: Blondie

Hello!! The only reason I picked this book up at first was because Debbie Harry was in the title! And that should be enough for all of you. Cos she's awesome.

Bonus Factor: High Fidelity

So somehow I always seem to review music-related books, but it's totally not on purpose. I didn't even get this book (um, except for the aforementioned Debbie Harry factor) because of music -- I grabbed it for the boy's POV and hard life stuff, cos let's face it. I NEEDED an antidote to the sugary girly stuff I've been reading lately. But who can resist the lure of awesome music? And awesome mentor record store owners? And awesome guardian angel punk-pop princesses? Cos I sure can't.

Casting Call:

NOT MICHAEL CERA. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE NO. And this is one of those books I could see casting agents salivating to (mis)cast him. But Johnny's too too cool and sweet to be played by Michael Cera.

Nicholas Hoult as Johnny

Instead, I submit Nick Hoult for Johnny. We know he can play sweet and quirky from About a Boy, and we know from Skins that this kid has grown up quite nicely. Also, I think this book would be brilliant transported to England (it worked in the other direction for High Fidelity, didn't it?).

Emily Browning as Maria

Y'all, it has taken me 2 HOURS to come up with this lame casting call. TWO HOURS. I blame it on how impossible it is to find a young actress who looks like Patti Smith but isn't all strung out and scary (a la Amy Winehouse) and also one who isn't Ellen Page. So here's what you get.

Relationship Status: Call Me

Oh, yeah. Call me! Call me, call me call me any anytime. Call me! Cos I'm just hanging on the telephone. Johnny, we can ride bikes around and take your cousin Bug out to the park to shoot off her rockets, and Maria, I promise I'm not moving in on yr man. You're welcome, too, and I'll even drive y'all to Goodwill and the record shop. Cos y'all are awesome. I just want to be yr mildly creepy obsessive fan, but not a stalker. Really.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.