American Love Songs is pretty typical band fare. The story is a rags to riches band of common everyday friends that make it big, all the way to the Grammys. The main couple is a best friends turned lovers theme very late in the story and the focus is on the hapless but lovable main character of Jake. This is an easy, light, entertaining story that reads incredibly fast but isn’t likely to have a lasting impression. I had a few qualms with the purposefully mysterious character of Parker but for an enjoyable, light romance this story should satisfy.
Jake is the third person narrator and he dominates the story with his perspective. The main characters are introduced in a blog post summarizing the main developments before the narration starts back at the beginning. The reader is told how the band formed and how Parker joined the group. From there the story goes on to show the years where the band is touring and building up an audience while Jake starts to fall in love with Parker. The story is very light in almost all respects. The band makes it huge pretty easily – they get signed, tour, make 2 best selling albums, win a grammy, etc – all without much drama or strife. The focus is consistently and firmly on Jake and his crush on Parker.
Part of this dilutes the band theme because it’s more of a backdrop than anything. It’s a vehicle to move the characters around and keep them close together. Jake’s crush on Parker is sweet and Jake is a rather adorable, endearing character. He’s clueless about his own feelings and yet shows surprising insight and intelligence in other areas. He’s inconsistent but has an engaging voice and mannerism that will likely win over most readers. Parker is kept much more mysterious and undefined, someone seen only through Jake’s perspective. Later in the story when the two guys finally get together (almost 200 pages in) there are many reasons offered for this but I personally found it a little weak.
There is some low level sexual tension between Jake and Parker but they are above all, best friends. So the story shows their friendship through minor drama and the everyday life of a newly successful band. Many of Parker’s motivations are told but didn’t really satisfy me as a reader. Towards the end of the story Parker and Jake have a big fight and Jake spends the rest of the book trying to get Parker’s trust and forgiveness when I firmly thought it should be the other way around. Parker is the one that lied, hid, and betrayed Jake’s trust. Similarly Jake is often described as a slut yet the book only references 2 one-night stands in over 2 years as a successful rock star so the repeated references aren’t consistent with what the reader is told or shown of Jake.
Beyond those issues the writing is very easy to read and the story moves pretty quickly. There are a few annoying contrivances, such as the use of footnotes to talk to the reader and offer amusing information. I found this distracting to scroll to the end of the page then scroll back up to get the full context. This information could have been incorporated much more easily into the narrative. The style relies on winning the reader over with Jake’s charm and his sometimes clueless, sometimes longing way of looking at life. Interspersed in the story are blog posts, most of which are funny and entertaining, lending a light feel to the entire novel.
The story is fun to read and the characters decent, if inconsistent, with a satisfying romance. There is not much sex in the story, some at the very end when the couple finally gets together, but the romance is slow to build. This will appeal most to those who like friends to lovers and more so those readers that enjoy the more languid approach to romance. The story may not be the most memorable or original, trending on standard fare in many areas, but the execution makes it enjoyable and easy to read. I’d recommend it for readers looking for something romantic with a bit of humor, a touch of angst, a little sex and a satisfying ending.