"What would Rita Hayworth do?" is a question that Dani often asks herself. She is spending the summer in her upstate New York town where she often has no bars on her cell phone and is dealing with her own family drama which is including her parent's recent divorce.
Dani loves immersing herself in the noir movies that are being shown all summer at the Little Art theater. She adores Rita Hayworth's ways, and loves the predictability of the shadow laden stories up on the screen. As soon as the credits roll and Dani is back to reality she finds a certain amount of dissatisfaction with her life, until a bit of a real life mystery presents itself. Dani's friend and former babysitter Elissa is dating the projectionist at the Little Art, so why is there a girl with polka-dotted tights who is definitely NOT Elissa, hanging around?
Dani clings to this new real life mystery as a way of escaping her weepy mother, and the reality of her cheating father. Her focus zooms in so tightly on figuring out the polka-dotted tights girl's identity that she doesn't think about who might get hurt along the way.
Nova Ren Suma has written an interesting and thoughtful novel that is character driven in the best way. Dani is very much 13 years old, and her resentment of her father is real and raw. As a reader, I found myself hoping that she wouldn't make some of the choices that she did, but they were the choices that a 13 year old would make. The integration of today's social networking technology fit the story and does not feel forced at all. I read this book in arc format a month or so ago, and it has been on my mind. Nova Ren Suma has managed a certain authenticity with Dani, and while this isn't a title that I found myself gushing about, it has been simmering and simmering. Certainly a sign that it will stand the test of time.