Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma. Grades 4-8. Aladdin, September 2009. Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils consideration. (This book is a Cybils nominee and my review reflects only my opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the panel!)
If there's anything I've learned from noir movies it's that everyone lies about something. And if you lie about one thing, what's to say you didn't lie about it all?
Thirteen-year-old Dani is not looking forward to the summer ahead of her.
Not only is she dealing with her parents' awful divorce (her dad was cheating and now lives with another woman and Dani doesn't think she can ever trust him again), but her best friend moved away and isn't calling (even though she said she would). It seems like everywhere Dani turns, someone is betraying her trust.
Which might be why she identifies so much with the film noir being shown at the local art house movie theater this summer. You never know who's going to be the bad guy. You can't trust anyone. And the femme fatale can handle whatever is thrown her way.
When Dani senses a mystery brewing (is yet ANOTHER person turning out to be untrustworthy?), she can help but investigate. And along the way, she'll discover a few surprises and start dealing with some issues.
I really, really liked Dani Noir.
First of all, Dani's a likeable character with a dry wit that keeps the tone from veering into depressing. It would be easy for a book about film noir and divorce and abandonment and betrayal to be dark, but Dani Noir isn't. It's not dark and it's not depressing. (Thank goodness.)
Which leads me to the second reason I really liked Dani Noir. Although Dani's dealing with situations that have been done (divorce, changes in friendship, etc.), it all feels fresh because Dani's seeing it through this film noir lens and comparing her own life to the movies she loves. It puts a fresh spin on things and adds a lot to the story. It made me want to watch all of Dani's favorite movies, too.
I'd highly recommend this book for tweens that are looking for a little something different.
Read more reviews at Semicolon, Shelf Elf, Welcome to My Tweendom, Reading Rants!, and educating alice.
Also, don't miss the Winter Blog Blast Tour interview with author Nova Ren Suma.