Title: Juliet, Naked
Author: Nick Hornby
Release Date: September 29, 2009
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Duncan has been obsessed with American singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe for...well, pretty much for as long as Annie can remember. Their relationship has always included Tucker, even though he stopped making music about ten years ago. Annie tolerates Duncan's unexplainable love for Tucker as well as she can, until one day, everything explodes.
As one of the main posters on Tucker's unofficial fan website, Duncan receives an advance copy of the first CD Tucker has put out in ten years. Called Juliet, Naked it contains acoustic, stripped down versions of the songs off of Tucker's most famous album, Juliet. Tucker and Annie's widely varying opinions about the genius of this new album only serves to exacerbate the underlying tension in their relationship and to emphasize their unhappiness with each other.
Juliet, Naked is a novel about second chances (and first ones) and the need for change when life becomes stagnant.
I haven't read much Nick Hornby, though I've seen most of the movies based on his books. I absolutely adore his artful blend of humor and emotion, as well as his incorporation of pop culture into his novels. When I heard that his new book Juliet, Naked was about music, I immediately know I wanted to read it.
Nick Hornby is a genius at creating light, fun novels that also have a certain amount of introspection. On the surface, Juliet, Naked is a funny novel about music and an extremely quirky and mismatched couple. But underneath, it's about family, running away from the past, lying, infidelity, and responsibility, to yourself as well as others. But then again, it's also about music - what makes great music and what doesn't. In this way, Hornby cloaks the depth of the novel in a absolutely wonderful and fun exterior.
Despite the length of Juliet, Naked the book is never daunting or too long. It goes by incredibly fast, as the reader gets more and more involved in Annie's life. Though the novel has three main characters, I would argue that it is actually Annie's story. She is the central character in the novel - Annie is the one that holds everything together. I really enjoyed getting to know her. She faced a tough situation with Duncan, and the reader can't help but sympathize with her feelings that Duncan loves Tucker more than he loves her. However, Hornby is careful not to let sympathy become pity - though Annie's plight is sad, she is never pitiable.
Juliet, Naked is also heartwarming and funny, which really makes it worth reading. There are certain lines in the novel that had me laughing out loud - I couldn't get over how amusing it was! Here's a quote that I especially enjoyed:
"Nobody should have children just because it made the photo library on the computer more interesting.”
On the surface, it's a very funny thing to say, but once you think about it a little, the sentiment is a bit sad and much deeper than you initially realized. I feel like that is indicative of this entire novel - it's humorous and entertaining if you don't want to think, but if you do, the substance is there, hiding in plain sight.
The ending of the novel is ambiguous and some readers might have a problem with its lack of closure. While I understand this argument, I think it was very well done, leaving the future open to interpretation.
Juliet, Naked was a thoroughly enjoyable book that I highly recommend. It never drags and always manages to keep the reader entertained and interested in reading. I can't wait to go back and read more Nick Hornby after how much I enjoyed this book!