Verdict: American Girl can be frustrating at times, and seems a bit like a draft that was returned to at various points in the author’s life. In addition, the book could use further editing, and the flow is a little choppy as it switches from music to astrology to relationship and back again.
Roseann Fontana begins her story years before her name change to Roxanne. She begins it in Brooklyn as a girl in love with music. Young Roseann is obsessed with The Beatles and is also filled with love for Brian Jones, and starts a fan club for him that goes international. It doesn’t matter that Jones is already deceased; he is loved and missed by many. In addition to her fan club success, Fontana begins a music career of her own.
To say that Fontana’s career is full of ups and downs would be an enormous understatement. She travels from Brooklyn to Long Island when her unsupportive family decides to spread out to the suburbs, spends time growing up with the CBGBs crowd in New York City, and manages to live everywhere from LA to Prague to England. Seemingly focused on England since the times of her youth when she idolized The Beatles, Fontana has an interesting life which lands her there at the end of her story as we hear it.
Throughout her interactions with a bevy of famous musicians including Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones and Blur, Roseann makes the rounds through various friends, acquaintances and boyfriends who help her to consistently almost make it in the music biz. Since she was a teenager, Fontana was hanging out at shows, watching music and meeting everyone on the scene. During this time she became addicted to speed, and taught herself to play guitar. Luckily the speed habit was kicked and the guitar playing stuck around.
As the years progressed (1960s through the 1990s) Fontana’s story certainly engages the reader to see what happens next. It seems that she went through so many almost successes that we sit with fingers crossed hoping she can make rent or have a place to sleep this week. We also don’t know until the end of the book whether Fontana even gets to record her much awaited album. I found myself unable to stop reading at points, thinking “This has to be her big break” only to see another disappointment for Fontana.
From Fontana’s hotel room escapade with an unhappily married Tom Petty, to her extensive stint as a marijuana dealer in New York City, we see the world of music from the inside looking out, rather than the glamour shots we see of our favorite bands in the media. There is indeed an aspect of hopefulness in the tribulations that Fontana experiences. Even as she discovers horrible things about the men she chooses to let in her life, she overcomes a great deal. In matters of faith, life and love, hope is never quite lost.
The one underlying characteristic throughout the whole book is Fontana’s resilience. Despite her involvement with more poorly chosen relationships, bad friends ensconced in jealousy and bouts of drug use, depression and severe TMJ, this girl presses on. Not deterred by life’s hardships, Fontana changes her name from Roseann to Roxanne and finally gets her album out later in life.
American Girl can be frustrating at times, and seems a bit like a draft that was returned to at various points in the author’s life. In addition, the book could use further editing, and the flow is a little choppy as it switches from music to astrology to relationship and back again. However, Fontana is a strong woman who finally gets what she wants, and this story does show how life looks from someone who spent their life trying to get where they are today.
Reviewed by Keri English for IndieReader