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It’s September when good girl Via Sorenson stumbles into a Seattle strip club, drunk and alone on her twenty-first birthday. Matt and Nick—best friends, bandmates, and bouncers—do their best to shield her from their sadistic cocaine-trafficking boss, Carlos. They don’t realize her daddy issues come with a forty-million-dollar trust fund and a legacy she would do anything to escape.
She is actually Violetta Rabbotino, who had been all over the news ten years earlier when her father, an acclaimed abstract artist, came home in a rage, murdered her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Young Violetta was spared, hidden behind the family Christmas tree, veiled by the mysticism of its pretty lights whose unadulterated love captivated and calmed her.
Now, desperate to shed her role as orphaned victim, Via stage dives into a one-hundred-day adventure with Matt and Nick, the bassist and drummer of popular nineties cover band Obliviot. The rock-and-roll lifestyle is the perfect distraction—until she is rattled by true love. As Christmas looms closer, her notorious past becomes undeniable. How will she ever untangle herself from her twisted string of pretty lights?
I am so excited to share Please, Pretty Lights by Ina Zajac with you today! I requested this book from NetGalley over a year ago because the cover and summary caught my attention. I was once involved with a musician and I understand the sex + drugs + rock n’ roll scene far too well. While I was involved with that life I also met a lot of women like Via – women with traumatic pasts seeking salvation in all the wrong places. I wasn’t 100% sure I would love the book but I did know that I would connect with it in a big way.
This story is dark but damn it, it feels accurate. The drug use and abuse of a traumatized and broken woman searching for some kind of peace is all too familiar to me. While I was reading through Please, Pretty Lights I couldn’t help but remember so many women I once knew. It broke my heart in so many ways. Like the women I knew, Via searched for healing on the stage, in the bottle, and through drugs. She wouldn’t find what she needed there but she dives deeper and deeper in her search for it. It’s sad but it’s real. Via didn’t want the world she was in but she didn’t know where else to turn. The only safety she had ever known was hiding behind pretty lights. She is so broken and throughout the whole book all I wanted to do was reach out and hug her.
I don’t mean to glamorize the rock n’ roll stage world. It’s certainly nothing glamorous or beautiful (at least in my experience). It’s dark, gritty, depressing, and full of ugly stuff that lurks in the shadows. It can destroy who you are and Via experiences that destruction first-hand. She’s seeking personal redemption and she wants to overcome her demons but she struggles to find the right path.
Please, Pretty Lights also revolves around the Seattle grunge scene of the 90’s which was totally my scene when I was growing up. The references to 90’s grunge made it even easier for me to connect with the story because it personalized it for me. It was relatable and I think that is a nod to the author knowing his target audience. I mean, I am older than his target (I think he’s targeting late teens / early 20’s) but it was still relatable because I lived that music scene so personally for almost a decade.
All Via wanted was an escape from her traumatic past but she looked for redemption in all of the wrong places. It’s a heartbreaking story of her struggle but it’s also a tragically beautiful story of self-discovery and the road to personal healing. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s eye-opening and sheds a lot of light on the horrors that people face. You can read more reviews and learn more about the book here on Amazon.