4 stars Recommended
Paperback: 254 pages
Superstar (Moonshine Cove April 2019) by Christopher Long tells what in some ways is an old, familiar story, but he tells it quite well and with sincerity, passion, and sympathy for the story’s captivating main characters. The book’s theme might be summed up with the biblical quote “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
This theme shapes the story, but in a good way that enhances the plot. Within the umbrella of the theme, Long has crafted a compelling story, with vivid characters, and plenty of action. Superstar is a good read, a novel that should hold readers’ attention and show them an exciting inside look at stardom. Yet–maybe fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Long before protagonist Trent Davis wrestles with the demon sidekicks of fame, he is a young man on the move. When the chronological story opens, Trent is eighteen and pulled between his mother’s world of church, college-plans, and family versus a promotor’s promises of making it big. It doesn’t help his mother’s hold when Trent is rebuffed by the church musician who first taught him to sing and by his mother’s pastor who says Trent is headed to hell. The tug-of-war between his mother’s vision for him—college and a traditional life—and his own dreams of becoming a county music superstar set the stage for a riveting story. Compounding the conflicts, Trent’s absent father, who abandoned the family long ago, is a superstar also, which fuels Trent’s ambitions even as it compels his mother to steer him in another direction.
Initially then, Trent is a naïve, even sweet young man at eighteen, taking his mother to a Mother’s Day lunch after a church service. This innocence will change as Big Dan Dickey, a promotor, lures Trent into the world of superstardom by first advising him to get out of Springfield, MO, Trent’s hometown, and look for a bigger stage. Thus, Trent and his good friend Paul, another member of their Cherry Hill band, take Big Dan’s advice and set out to become superstars. That the promotor will betray Trent or abandon him in some way is implicit in the story from the onset (and foreshadowed in the Prologue), but Long skillfully controls the plot on the way to Trent’s fall that the foreshadowing does not diminish the interest and tension in the story.
Tracy, Trent’s girlfriend who later becomes his wife and the mother of his child, is also an innocent dreamer when the story begins. She too will be disillusioned along the way to Trent’s superstardom. Young and pretty, Tracy dreams of becoming a big-time model, but after a promising photo shoot, an executive (a former model herself) at a lucrative modeling agency tells Tracy that despite her obvious good looks, she is not tall enough. Yet, the executive holds out hope for Tracy by promising to try and find her some work as a model.
As Tracy leaves, the modeling executive—who was twice the wife of music superstars—warns Tracy that being romantically involved with Trent, already a rising star, will not have a happy ending. Tracy boldly—and naively—assures the woman executive that: “My cowboy will never hurt me.”
However, before the first chapters introducing the young and naïve Trent and Tracy, there’s a prologue in which Trent, still young but now jaded and possibly ruined, contemplates shooting himself. Trent is on the run, but from who or why is not clear. It’s a chilling segment, made more compelling by author Long’s use of italicized thought of Trent in contrast to the narrative. Long utilizes telling details effectively which add to the power of this opening, including a gritty description of the cheap hotel room where Trent finds himself.
The prologue sets the hook and creates obvious suspense—will Trent kill himself or not? While there’s no denying the power in the prologue, perhaps it tells too much? Or perhaps not? The twists and turns in the book will answer that, but for those you must read Superstar yourself.
One of the great things about Superstar, other than the well-drawn portrait of the tortured Trent, is the authentic details of the music business. Long is an author, show biz analyst, award-winning musician, entertainment personality, radio host and missionary, and he uses his insider’s view well in constructing his tale of a young man who rises too far too fast.
Reviewed by Claire Matturro