Primary Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Family Drama
Published: first published in 2000
Page count: 464 (audio length 13:26:00)
My Format: Audiobook via Hoopla
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: Buy One Hit Wonder
My rating: ★★★★☆
Synopsis from Goodreads
Shy and gawky, Ana has always daydreamed about living the life of her exotic half-sister, Bee, a pop singer who had a #1 hit single before she inexplicably vanished from the celebrity scene. When Bee turns up dead, Ana is dispatched to the big city to clear out her apartment. Instantly seduced by the second-hand glamour of Bee’s baubles, bangles and bottles of Pierre-Jouet, Ana takes up with Bee’s wild club-hopping cronies. News of a missing cat and a remote country cottage soon convince Ana that her sister was leading a secret life. Now Ana is on a mission to discover what really happened to Bee Bearhorn, the one-hit wonder–and what is about to happen to the unremarkable Ana Wills.
I have enjoyed the Lisa Jewell books I have read so far (Then She Was Gone, I Found You, and The Family Upstairs), but these have all been relatively recent works. So, I thought I’d go back a bit and read one of her earlier novels. Here are my pros and cons for One-Hit Wonder:
- This story was well-done. Despite Con #1 below, I was drawn into the life of Bee Bearhorn and her little sister. Their characterizations were well-done and interesting. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out. You will particularly like Flint and Alexander. Even Bee and Ana’s mother, who is a terrible person, is well developed.
- The novel is quite unlike Jewel’s more recent works which tend to be more in the psychological thriller genre. This was more of a family drama and I actually really liked it.
- Bee was an interesting and complex character. She isn’t necessarily a likable person, but at the same time you will kind of love her.
- I think the title of the book has a double meaning and if it was purposeful, it is genius.
- I thought the reveal of Bee’s “secret” life was done particularly well. The story is presented in a past and present narrative (past from Bee’s POV, present from Ana’s). Ana discovers an event that really made Bee’s former life suddenly make sense. This event was revealed perfectly within the past and present narratives and you won’t see it coming.
- There are parts of this story that are gut-wrenching, parts that are joyful, parts that are ugly, parts that are poignant, and so much more. I’m always impressed when an author can take you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions without the book becoming oppressive, disconnected, or just plain weird.
- I thought the book was just a bit long. The story had a secondary plot line that focused on Ana’s coming of age story – and don’t get me wrong, it was generally interesting – but I enjoyed the mystery about Bee more. There were a few times I felt like the book was stalling or losing focus and those were always during Ana’s story. Plus, the coming of age storyline took place in about one week. It was a tad unrealistic in my opinion. I could have done without it.
- There were some dated technology references in this book that unfortunately pulled me out of the story a bit. Characters didn’t know how to use the internet, they talked about turning on their modems, and they even mentioned Napster! I know these things were contemporary in 2000 when the book was first published, but (and maybe I’m nitpicking here) it really pulled me right out of the story when I came across these dated references. Perhaps this is because the rest of the story didn’t feel dated at all and the incongruity stood out too much for me.
Even though it is more family drama than psychological thriller, if you are a Lisa Jewell fan you will enjoy this book. I absolutely recommend it!
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy One-Hit Wonder. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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(image from Goodreads)