Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing — Steven Luna
Steve Luna has done it again, but you won’t be hearing about gastrointestinal vampire transitions like in his humorous and ingenious Joe Vampire and Joe Vampire: The Afterlife. In Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing, Luna exhibits a depth and grace of writing as we follow Tyler, a 17-year-old boy who lost his mother to cancer the year before and his struggles relating to his father.
As a child, Tyler’s mother encouraged him to embrace music, which he has a natural talent for. But haunted by his mother, he throws away a chance to pursue a future in music because she’s no longer there to understand him. When Tom, Tyler’s father, orders him to clean out their garage as a form of punishment for going to a party, Tyler finds remnants of his mother’s past that leads to a secret he is determined to uncover, sending him on a physical and emotional journey.
This young adult coming of age story was beautifully and poetically written. Tyler’s sarcasm is juxtaposed against his inner dialogue, where the reader can feel his deep sense of loss and struggle to survive in a world where his father is a mechanic, something he sees as in direct opposition to his own musical creativity, and his mother has been, as he puts it, “uncreated.”
The story moves along and follows unexpected twists and turns and would resonate with anyone who was ever a teenager and felt misunderstood and lost. The parent/child relationship is often a hard one during those adolescent years, and Luna has woven a story that poignantly delves into that bond. I would recommend this to any teen or adult, and could see it being on a school reading list as it deals with very real themes. It’s been a long time since I read a coming of age young adult novel and it was refreshing.
You can find Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing on Amazon for $11.44 in print and for $2.99 in the Kindle version. Don’t forget to check out a previous guest posting from author Steve Luna on this most recent release, or look back further and catch reviews of Joe Vampire and Joe Vampire: The Afterlife.