CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number . . . .March 17, 2017
Darius Zaine is a teenage singing sensations who rocketed to the top of the music charts from an uploaded YouTube video. He has the money, the estate, and the life, but he also has an alcoholic father who continually goes into rehab and no one special in his life to ground him. One night after passing out on his game’s room couch following an awards party at his Vancouver estate, Darius wakes to find himself in an alternate reality of his life. Is he dreaming? Was his other life a dream? What is going on?
Waking up in his childhood home, Darius (now simply Darren Zegers) is still almost eighteen, but he’s living with his mother and going to school with the friends he knew before dropping out to pursue stardom. The problem is, he doesn’t remember what he did yesterday or last week. Feeling like he’s living someone else’s life, Darren does his best to blend in at school, but a few surprises and old realities await him.
He is dating Susan Koh, a girl he had a crush on since he was 12 but pushed away because he let his rising fame get in the way. In this reality, they’ve been dating for two years, and Darren knows that he treated her unfairly in his other life. Another person Darren knows is Keir. In his rock life, Keir first tagged along as a friend who got too heavy into the drug scene, and so Darren fired him. In this life, Keir and Darren are somewhat friends, and Darren realizes that Keir struggles with mental health problems and that he shouldn’t have turned his back on Keir. In school, Darren is faced with the reality of his dyslexia that causes him to struggle with marks but doesn’t interfere with his ability to write excellent poetry and songs. In this life, Darren has written the same songs, but he hasn’t uploaded anything to YouTube, an action which was the turning point in his rock life.
After talking with Keir, Darren realizes that the song he became famous for was actually written for Susan, but he was too shy to play it for her so he put in on YouTube. He and Keir plan to go to Susan’s house and play it for her outside her window. They think that playing the song for Susan might somehow get Darren back to normal and get rid of the amnesia. Darren does play the song for Susan, but nothing happens. Susan and Darren decide to go inside and watch a movie, but Darren is asleep long before the credits roll.
The next morning, Darren opens his eyes and sees that he’s back in the game’s room of his estate. It was a dream! Or was it? Because Darius can’t get Susan out of his mind, he decides to text her even though, in this life, they haven’t been in contact for several years. Darius gets a call from Susan right after. They do know each other after all, but Susan is with Keir! Despite the changing reality, yet again, Darius helps Susan find Keir who has gone off his anxiety medication and is lost. The police find Keir just in time, and Darius knows that he’s probably saved Keir’s life.
With all of the startling realizations, Darius knows that he wants to make changes in his life, changes that include taking charge of himself, getting help for his dad, quitting drinking and letting Keir live with him again. Although he can’t be with Susan, he does have a chance at a happier life.
Prendegast’s hi lo novel is an interesting sci fi adventure that holds the reader’s interest from start to finish. The story shows the challenging side of the recording industry from the unique perspective of a teenager star. Pinch Me deals with many themes through the performance lens, including alcohol and drug abuse, groupies, dyslexia, broken relationships and the good and bad consequences of choices. Through the course of the novel, the protagonist is forced to reexamine his life, and it is through this reflection that he chooses to change his life for the better and help those around him.
The protagonist makes several journeys through time, but, because of the way in which the novel is written, the time and place changes are easy to follow and add to its interest. Pinch Me would be an excellent read for struggling teenage boys who would be hooked by the music industry premise.
Penta Ledger is a teacher librarian at Gravenhurst High School in Gravenhurst, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.