Comparing Dylan Landis to J.D. Salinger is not unfounded. Looking at Holden Caulfield in THE CATCHER IN THE RYE next to the protagonist here in RAINEY ROYAL—they are strikingly similar. Left on their own accord, they test the barriers of moving into adulthood. It’s a societal critique, a social commentary. For the record: I was never a fan of Salinger.
As a father to a daughter, this book terrifies me. It made me very uncomfortable. I won’t detract that from the book; we need books to stretch our boundaries. Here, Rainey, the main character, is left by her mother to live with her morally relaxed father and his male friend live-in. Together they, father and friend, are host to various up-and-coming musicians, usually of the female variety. Doors swing open in their communal living arrangements, leaving no questions about nightly activity. Rainey, a young teen girl, is left without guidance; she’s left to define her own self, her own sexuality.
As they said with Salinger, so they’ll say about Landis, this book could be dangerous. Rainey discovers her power: over male teachers, over classmates of both sexes, over anyone whose eyes she catches. No responsibility is taken with this great power. As a reader, you’ll witness the effects as Rainey grows with this into age 20, both from her, and from those whom she has affected.
What I detract from this book is the jarring nature of reading it: back and forth in time with no warning, no stylish tools, just a juxtaposition of narrative. Things are further complicated toward the end when the actual narrator changes. The writing style is what I didn’t like about Catcher, the same applies here. Though the styles are different, both distract from the emotion and progression of the story.
While the stylistic choice isn’t for me, others will take confidence from this book, whether they relate or whether they learn from Rainey. Again, though, I was too distracted to do either.
Thank you to Soho Press for providing this book for my review.
You can find this book’s other reviews on Amazon, here: Rainey Royal