Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna
Tyler, a tall, lanky, blue-eyed, poet and musician “pretty” boy son is living unhappily with his not very handsome, short, mechanic father. Tyler’s mother died of pancreatic cancer. Tyler firmly believes that he and Tom have absolutely nothing in common. Tyler’s mom understood him. Tom doesn’t.
Tom struggles to make things work with Tyler, but Tyler is frustrated by the differences between them. Tyler no longer calls Tom “Dad.” Tom is simply “Tom” to him. Tyler knows this hurts his father, but he cannot seem to bring himself to care.
Tyler’s and Tom’s arguments get heated; Tyler thinks it’s only a matter of time before they actually hurt each other. His mom’s last words to Tyler included making him promise that he and Tom would take care of each other. That promise is being broken.
Tyler has a wonderful girlfriend, a great best friend, and a good support system in his band. His girlfriend Chelsea is understanding and supportive.
Tyler seems to be an angry, angst-ridden teenager who pulls many stunts just because he can. He doesn’t plan on going to college and fights with Tom at every opening. He takes his anger out on his fellow band members and friends. However, there are deeper issues. He has recurring dreams about his mother. What do they mean?
While cleaning the garage, Tyler finds his mother’s journals and begins to read them whenever he has a private moment. Soon, he discovers a powerful family secret. What if Tyler’s father is actually a formerly famous rock star and not Tom after all? This makes so much more sense to Tyler. He begins to draw parallel upon parallel. He decides he must find out the truth for himself. So, Tyler leaves the safety of his home, betrays all who know him and departs for parts unknown to search for his “real” father.
This sends Tyler on a journey searching for fulfillment and something else.
While Tyler’s trying to find what he needs, Tom, Chelsea, and Tyler’s other friends are suffering because they don’t know how to find Tyler or even if he’s alive. Each pulls inside him or herself and deals with the pain individually.
Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing is very well written. Tyler’s journey becomes the reader’s journey. It becomes one the reader feels compelled to follow. The outcome becomes exceedingly important. As the reader travels with Tyler, the secondary characters become more developed. Through Tyler, the reader learns more about the world around him and those he loves.
This is a story about personal growth, loving through loss, and growing through pain. It tells about letting go and holding on. It is beautiful work of art.
This ARC was received in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.