Amy Peppercorn: Starry-Eyed and Screaming

Amy Peppercorn’s chaotic life becomes even more confusingwhen her amazing voice leads to a deal with a record company. By succumbing to trashy manufactured pop, Amy knows she is betraying her principles. Family and friends begin to act differently towards her and she feels carried along by forces stronger than herself. All the while Amy wonders if this is what she wants. Things come to a climax when one of her schoolfriends dies in a car accident on the night before Amy is supposed to perform on live television. The emotional impact of Geoff’s death leads Amy to realise that her life of fame is a charade. On the show, instead of performing her practised routine, Amy pays tribute to Geoff with a touching childhood song. Finally Amy seems to know what is important and what she may want. However, in an alarming irony, Amy’s tearful performance becomes media fodder and serves to push her into the limelight even more.

Abundant irony makes the book both unpredictable and an unsettling read. The story has a dark, sinister undercurrent that utterly belies the loud, frivolous cover. Humour is quite black and is often used in descriptions of hysterical parental conflicts. Throughout the story, Amy returns to the question of what she wants in life. Any impression that adulthood means certainty is negated by the example of her parents. The theme is relevant to all ages, not only adolescents, and serves to make Brindley’s novel less confined and more universal. However, the book ends on rather an unsatisfactory note. Amy, with more conviction than we’ve seen in her all through the novel, decides to play the fame game by entering into a petty argument with a pop rival through the press. And I thought she had got her priorities straight after all that happened! Of course, this is the first book of a series and is therefore not supposed to be self-contained or neatly resolved.