Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Book Review: "The Frontman" by Ron Bahar
For as long as he can remember, Ron has known his parents have expected him to be a stellar student so he can go to medical school. He's willing to work as hard as he can, and he's actually interested in medicine, so following this path isn't too hard for him. But he has other ambitions, too, and he's getting tired of hiding those from his parents or pretending they don't matter.
Ron loves to sing, and he knows the words to nearly every 80s song there is. He's most comfortable lip syncing or singing karaoke, but every now and again he dreams of the glory that could come from being a band's lead singer. When his friends start to give him the opportunity to sing a song or two during their band's performances, he starts to love the adrenaline rush that performing gives him, not to mention the attention he gets from the girls in the audience!
Everyone tells him how talented he is as a singer, and even someone in the music business tells him he shouldn't let his voice go to waste. But his parents don't like the idea of him using his voice for anything other than religious purposes, so how would they react if he abandoned his (and their) dreams of medical school for a career in music?
And that's not his only dilemma. He has had a crush on Amy Andrews, the daughter of close friends of his parents, for quite some time. Amy is beautiful, smart, friendly, and crazy enough, she likes insecure, geeky Ron as much as he likes her. Wounded by her parents' divorce, Amy wants someone to be true to her and protect her, and she wants to believe Ron is that person. Ron wants to be that person, and more than that, he wants Amy. There's just one problem.
"Even at the tender age of twelve, however, I understood that, to my parents, Amy represented the ultimate forbidden fruit: the non-Jewish girl to the Jewish boy. With regard to my feelings, I knew they knew, they knew I knew they knew."
The more success he has in singing, the more jealous and distant Amy becomes, plus he has to hide how much he's enjoying it from his parents. He doesn't want to disappoint them, but whose dreams should he pursuehis or his parents'? Is there a happy medium? Can he get his parents to accept Amy as the one he loves?
This is a goofy, endearing book, full of 80s references (each chapter is prefaced with a snippet of lyrics from a song that hit the charts in the 80s), and quirky humor. Since Bahar lived this life (or at least a version of it), he obviously has a great deal of affection for his characters, even as they do misguided or inappropriate things. And who hasn't struggled between doing what you want and what your parents want?
The Frontman is a quick, fun read, one that brought back lots of memories.
NetGalley and SparkPress provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!