Nova Ren Suma, Dani Noir (2009)

I’m normally not a reader of young adult, teen or tween books. This conception is completely foreign to me, because I remember how much I longed to be allowed to access adult books when I was a young teenager. “Why would people want to go the other way round? I really don’t understand those adults”, does my inner teenager sulk in the back of my mind.

In my home town, children and adult libraries were adjoining but separated buildings on the same street. When you were deemed old enough by the librarians of the children library (a complete subjective notion where no parental opinion could interfere), you were allowed to climb a stair right behind the librarian counter and access a mezzanine for teenager books. Part of the thrill for these books, I now realize, was to be able to scan the entire children library from upstairs. Ahem, sorry about this nostalgic intermission. So, I’m still a bit surprised when I see grown-ups reading Harry Potter or vampire series, but genres are porous and categories have more to do with marketing than with literary content, so I have nothing against taking a peek over the edge (of the mezzanine).

That said, as I got a nasty cold ten days ago and I lacked any energy, I was quite happy to take refuge with Nova’s tween novel, Dani Noir. It reconciled me with my inner teenager who was craving comfort and solace. Yes, life is unfair, especially when your nose is red and you sit close to a pile of tissues. Life is even more unfair to 13 year old Dani, who spends one of her worst summers in a small town of upstate New York. Not only has her best friend moved to Poughkeepsie (hey, this town name is so exotic to my European ears, I love it – how are people from there called, Poughkeepsians?), but her family is in turmoil. Her parents got recently divorced and her father now plans to get married again! Dani’s refuge is her local art cinema, that shows noir movies featuring her idol Rita Hayworth. Dani literally lives in a noir movie, and tries to figure out what Rita Hayworth would do in her place. She’s so sweet! I loved her voice in the book, defiant and brave.

As I was reading about Dani and Rita, with the pile of tissues going ever so high, I realized that I’ve never watched that many noir movies, even if I heard of them. Determined to cover this gap over last weekend, I rented out To Have and Have Not (1944), the first movie that united Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart on a set. It’s not supposed to be a real noir movie, but it was dark and romantic enough to me. And I discovered that neither Bacall nor Bogart were really beautiful in the contemporary sense. Yet they indeed were glamorous as a couple!

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4 thoughts on “Nova Ren Suma, Dani Noir (2009)

  1. It is strange, isn’t it? When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to have freedom in the adult books and now as an adult there are some kids books that are quite enjoyable (voracious reader of all the Harry Potter books here!). A noir YA book sounds like fun, but I especially like the noir movie watching that it inspired! 🙂

  2. Aw – I so need to read Nova’s book, too! I haven’t yet but love reading this post. I am actually with you – I haven’t read one of the Harry Potter books yet or Twilight, etc. – no matter how many friends/family tell me how great they are I can’t get over the fact that, I’m sorry, they are books for young people! There are plenty of great books for adults out there and someday I hope to have children – surely I’ll read those books then? Anyway!

  3. Stefanie – I’m a great fan of Harry Potter’s movies but am waiting for Baby Smithereens to be old enough to read him the books myself! Are there any noir movie you can recommend? I have once seen The Maltese falcon on tv but I didn’t understand it at all!

    Courtney – give Dani Noir a try on a gloomy day, it will remind you of your inner teenager (if you’re like me)… but waiting till you have a brooding teenager in your family may perhaps take a bit too long?? The risk is that your own teenager will say “mum, you just caaaan’t understand”

  4. Pingback: 2010 in First Lines « Smithereens

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