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Fade Out

Fade Out

5.0 1
by Nova Ren Suma

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Life echoes art in this sassy, heartwrenching coming-of-age story from the author of Imaginary Girls.

It’s summer and Dani Callanzano has been abandoned by everyone she knows. Her dad moved out, her mom is all preoccupied being broken-hearted, and her closest friend just moved away. Basically it’s the end of the world.
At least she


Life echoes art in this sassy, heartwrenching coming-of-age story from the author of Imaginary Girls.

It’s summer and Dani Callanzano has been abandoned by everyone she knows. Her dad moved out, her mom is all preoccupied being broken-hearted, and her closest friend just moved away. Basically it’s the end of the world.
At least she has the Little Art, her favorite local arthouse movie theater. Dani loves all the old black-and-white noir thrillers with their damsels in distress and their low camera angles. It also doesn’t hurt that Jackson, the guy who works the projection reel, is super cute and nice and funny. And completely off-limits, of course—he’s Dani’s friend’s boyfriend, and they are totally, utterly perfect together.
But one day, Dani stumbles across a shocking secret about Jackson—a secret too terrible for her to keep. She finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with enough drama to rival the noir-est film noir she’s ever seen.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thirteen-year-old Danielle (Dani) Callanzano's personality is too big for Shanosha, N.Y., “a small town where everybody and their dog knows who you are.” Her only refuge from the hot, boring summer is the Little Art movie theater's Summer of Noir film series. She loves to lose herself in the dramas and striking beauty of stars like Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner, as an escape from her parents' divorce, her father's sudden engagement and her best friend's move. When a mysterious girl wearing polka-dot tights appears in town without explanation, Dani investigates, focusing on Jackson, the theater's 17-year-old projectionist, in hopes of tracking down the “femme fatale” and finding the truth. “If there's anything I've learned from noir movies it's that everyone lies about something,” Dani muses. Her imagination, angry determination and cinematic narration (“if this were a scene in a movie.... It would be deep night, the only light from a few sparse streetlamps. There'd be a whole sea of shadows”) propel the story. Suma's watertight debut displays an expert balance of the realities of teenage life, humor and intrigue. Ages 9–14. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Dani Callanzano is thirteen and loves old black and white movies, especially those starring Rita Hayworth. It is the summer before she enters eighth grade and her life is totally unexciting, except when she is able to watch films at the Little Art movie theater. Like all teenagers, she is facing some issues. Her parents have just divorced, and her dad is about to remarry. This means she will now have a stepmother and a stepsister, sixteen-year-old Nichole. Her mother is having a very hard time accepting the divorce. Dani and her former best friend, Taylor, are trying to renew their friendship. Then there is Austin, who works for his mother at the theater and has a crush on Dani. Jackson, the theater projectionist, poses another problem; Dani finds out that he is not only dating her special friend Elissa but also has another girlfriend named Bella on the side. She is determined to protect Elissa from being hurt by him. Dani is sure she has learned how to do this from all the movie heroines she knows so well. Soon, things go from bad to worse as Dani gets grounded. Taylor and Austin help Dani sneak out to attend the first Midnight Movie in order to resolve the situation involving Jackson, Elissa and Bella. The resulting catastrophe helps Dani learn a great deal about herself and her loved ones. This well-written and realistically portrayed story is certain to be enjoyed by young teens. Add it to the fiction shelves and it will be in great demand. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
VOYA - Summer Hayes
Thirteen-year-old Dani is anticipating a dull and dreary summer. Her best friend moved away and has not called in months, her parents recently divorced, and her small town offers little entertainment for bored eighth graders. Her only bright spot is spending afternoons at the Little Art movie theater watching 1940s noir films and hanging out with Jackson, an older teen who is the theater's projectionist. When a strange girl in polka-dot tights sneaking out of the theater piques Dani's interest, she finds herself reluctantly recruiting two slightly undesirable classmates to help solve the mystery of the girl's identity. Dani is a likeable and sympathetic character who is suffering typical middle school growing pains. The impacts of her parent's divorce and the loss of a best friend, both obviously painful events, are unfortunately overshadowed by the less compelling and slightly tedious plot focusing on Jackson, who may or may not be two-timing girls from different towns. Although small-town boredom and Dani's obsession with noir films are clearly the catalyst for her interest in solving the mystery surrounding Jackson's extracurricular activities, it remains unclear why she cares so much. More interesting is the tentative rebuilding of Dani's friendship with her childhood friend, Taylor, and the possibility of romance with Jackson's nerdy cousin Austin. As a mystery it does not really satisfy, but Dani Noir does offer a funny and introspective exploration of a girl starting to see the larger world around her. Reviewer: Summer Hayes
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Summer looks bleak to 13-year-old Danielle Callanzano. Her best friend has moved away, her father has recently split, and her mother is acting sad and weepy. Dani finds escape in the glamorous film noir world at the Little Art, a local retro movie theater in her sleepy upstate New York town. There she finds companionship in Austin, the son of the owner, and his cousin Jackson, the projectionist. Drawn by the mystery and moral ambiguity of her femme-fatale idol, Rita Hayworth, Dani employs sarcasm, evasion, and lies to her mom in hopes of forestalling a weekend visit with her father and his girlfriend. She craves a mystery, and one arises from her suspicion that Jackson, 17, is a two-timer. She uses Facebook and the camera in her cell phone to gain incriminating evidence. The mystery, however, feels contrived, driven by drama and anger, and the first-person narration focuses so exclusively on Dani and her fantasies that the other characters and relationships suffer as a result. Once Mom regains her composure as a parent, Dani is grounded for her deceptive exploits. She finally finds cause to apologize and make peace with family and friends in a plot that turns on her personal growth.—Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT
Kirkus Reviews
The heroine's fresh voice and offbeat hobby enlivens this low-key bildungsroman. Dani, "rising fourteen," is having the Worst Summer Ever. Stuck in a boring small town, missing her best friend and (sorta) coping with her parents' divorce, Dani's only solace is the classic noir festival at the local movie theater. When the affable projectionist's out-of-booth behavior starts to echo her father's infidelity, Dani becomes obsessed with "fixing" this one corner of her life by modeling herself on her beloved femmes fatales. Smart and witty, if self-absorbed to an annoying degree, Dani never fails to be an entertaining protagonist. Her long-suffering friends and family are portrayed with nuance and charm, and the constant stream of film trivia is smoothly integrated into the narrative. The copious allusions to electronic social networking contrast pleasingly with the old-fashioned timelessness of the cinematic references, even though they may lend a dated feeling to the story fairly quickly. There isn't anything particularly new about Dani's dilemma or what she learns over the course of the summer, but this very familiarity will lend appeal to those in a similar situation. An above-average debut. (Fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Fade Out


    What Would Rita Hayworth Do?
    A slow fade-in on my life:

    There’s this little mountain town, smack between two long highways that go nowhere in either direction. There’s the one supermarket, the one movie theater, the one Chinese restaurant. But there are twelve different places to buy junk for your lawn.

    It’s summer, so the days are longer than you can stand. If you want air-conditioning, walk to the convenience store on the corner and take your time searching for an ice pop.

    There’s this girl. She’s thirteen, but if I say she’s going on fourteen it might sound better. She’s nobody really. You probably wouldn’t notice her if I didn’t point her out. She’s got brown hair to her chin, and bangs that need cutting, and when she reads she has to wear glasses. Today she’s got on a tank top that says SUPERSTAR, but that’s a big lie so go ahead and ignore it.

    She’s sitting up on the roof of her house, because that’s the only place where she gets cell-phone reception. She checks her phone, finds no messages, not even a text. A truck drives by, doesn’t honk. A mosquito sticks its fang in her knee, she smashes it.

    Are you asleep yet?

    She’s me, I’m her. And we’re both bored to the gills.

    If this were a movie, I would’ve walked out by now.

    So let’s cut to black. Roll the credits. Drop the curtain, if this place even has a curtain. Kick the slimy dregs of popcorn under the seat and head home.

    Except that would be too soon. Because—just like a movie—there’s about to be some big drama when you least expect it. Mine begins when my mom pops her head out the upstairs bathroom window.

    Her eyes are puffy—I see this first. Not a good sign.

    “Danielle,” she calls. “Come inside so we can talk before you go.”

    “I can’t,” I say. “I’m sunbathing.” Notice I’m flat-out ignoring the fact that she said I’m going anywhere. This is because I’m not. Going, that is. I’m staying right here.

    “Sunbathing? It’s four thirty in the afternoon and you’re in the shade. You haven’t even started packing yet. Don’t tell me you’re out there waiting for Maya to call….”

    Maya—she’s my best friend. Or she used to be. We met the second day in seventh grade: Fourth-period gym, she held my ankles for sit-ups, I held hers. She was from Willow Elementary and I was from Shanosha Elementary, but soon it was like we’d known each other forever, like her ankles were my ankles and mine were hers. We were inseparable. But ever since she moved an hour-and-a-half away to Poughkeepsie three months ago, she forgot about all that. She’s never online anymore and she never calls.

    So what if I’m up on the roof waiting for her to call? Or for anyone to call. Even my older brother, Casey, who’s away at soccer camp—I wouldn’t want to talk to him anyway. If he called maybe I’d pick up and say thanks for leaving me here all by myself to rot, and then I’d hang up on him. But Mom doesn’t have to know all that.

    “Come inside,” she says. “We need to talk.”

    “Talk to me out here,” I say. “I can hear you just fine.”

    “All right. If you won’t come inside…”

    I wait.

    She waits.

    The mosquitoes hover.

    It’s a battle of the wills and I win. It’s at this moment that she asks the dumbest question ever: “Dani, do you need help packing your socks?”

    Socks! In summer! “Is that what you wanted to talk to me about, really?”

    Her voice tightens. “No.” But she doesn’t say what else it could be. She just says, “You should get packing. Your father’s on his way here.” Her face gets all crumply as she admits this.

    Obviously she’s trying to keep from crying. It must be because she just talked to him on the phone. This happens every time he calls: She gets bright pink, her eyes go leaky, and then she holes up in her room.

    She’s been like this ever since Dad left. Most of the time, like at the newspaper in town where she works, she’s a perfectly normal person you wouldn’t feel mortified to be seen with. But when she’s home with me, she’s this other person. She’s not my mom anymore but a wobbly pink-headed impostor walking around blowing her nose and pretending she’s my mom. I don’t know how to act when she’s like this. It makes me say things maybe I shouldn’t.

    Like now. She says, “Come inside, Dani. Please? Your dad’s almost here.”

    And what I could say is Okay. I could cut her some slack, you know I should. But instead I say, “And that has to do with me because…”

    But I’m allowed to be sarcastic. I’m at a “difficult” age, in a “difficult” situation, and you’re a liar if you think you wouldn’t milk it.

    “Because I told you. He’s on his way to pick you up right now. You knew this was his weekend. Stop stalling.”

    This is when the scene goes dark and the music gets loud and, I don’t know, thunder crashes in the sky over my head or something. This is when you’d see a close-up of a mouth and hear the scream.

    Because I’ve been telling her and telling her that I’m not going. I’ve told her like twenty million times. I haven’t packed a single thing for the trip, and I’m sitting out here on the roof pretending to get a tan but really catching malaria from all the mosquitoes and does this look like I’m going somewhere, does it?

    They can’t make me go.

    Someone will have to drag me kicking and screaming down the driveway, and if the kicking and the screaming don’t work, I’ll just do one of those nonviolent protests where you play dead so you’re as heavy as possible, like a sack of bricks.

    I’ll make myself like bricks just how Gandhi used to do. At least, I think that was Gandhi, or maybe he was the guy who didn’t eat. Anyway, if I have to, I’ll pretend to be Gandhi, and who could possibly force me in my dad’s car then?

    My mom ducks down to grab a tissue. Then her head pops back up, and that’s all I see of her, her head, bobbing there like a hot-pink balloon.

    She bats her eyes to keep from crying, except all it does is make her nose drip more. She’s a wreck. Just listen to her:

    “Danielle, you have to go.” Sniffle. “Even if it’s not what I want, you know the judge said…” Sniffle. “I know your dad moved in with that”—she stops herself—“with Cheryl, but that’s where he lives now.” Sniffle. “Dani, can’t you understand? You have to go. It’s the law….” (Here a loud, wet honk as she blows her nose.)

    The way she’s talking makes me think that what she really wants is for me to not pack my socks, to not go.

    Then she leaves the window and heads out of sight—I figure to lock herself in her room and soak her pillow. I can make fun of how often my mom cries, but that’s because I picked her. In the Cooper-Callanzano divorce of this past winter, let the record show that I chose my mom’s side.

    Now that my mom has given up, now that no one cares and no one’s looking, it gets a little boring out here on the roof. Another truck drives by, doesn’t honk. I swat away one last mosquito and climb through the window back into my room.

    I take a seat on my bed. My mom put my suitcase there—it’s open, empty, waiting for me to shove it full of stuff to take with me. I look at it, and I’ve lost all the bars on my cell phone, and no one’s calling anyway, and I ask myself the only question worth asking:

    What would Rita Hayworth do?

    Rita Hayworth was this old Hollywood movie star—all glamour and mystery like in those black-and-white movies people like to call “films.”

    Most of my friends at school have no clue who she is. When they think of a big movie star they think of someone like Reese Witherspoon. But if Reese and Rita Hayworth were in the same scene and the cameras were rolling you’d forget Reese was even there. And that’s not to dis Reese Witherspoon.

    All I’m saying is Rita Hayworth was something. Say there was this movie and both Rita Hayworth and Reese Witherspoon were in it. Reese would say her lines and she’d be great like usual, but then it would be Rita Hayworth’s turn.

    Rita Hayworth would toss her hair (red in real life, but in black-and-white it could be any color). She’d blink super slow, like she was underwater. Then she’d turn, finally, and settle her eyes on Reese. It would take a few seconds but feel like forever and you wouldn’t be able to stop staring. Then Rita Hayworth would say maybe one word, drawing it out, making it sound like the most beautiful word anyone could say, like, in any language, ever. The word could be “hi” or “mayonnaise,” it doesn’t matter. And before you know it, Rita Hayworth will have eaten Reese Witherspoon alive.

    That’s why I think of her. Rita Hayworth wouldn’t let anyone push her around, not even Mom and Dad. She’d do what she wanted, and no sorrys after.

    Rita Hayworth could hide her emotions down where you’d never find them. She’d make you think she didn’t care when, really, she cared more than anything. And if someone told her to go someplace—because it’s the law and the state of New York says so—what she’d do is wait till you weren’t looking, and then she’d leave for someplace else.

    So I decide to make things a little more difficult. Not for myself—for my dad.

    Cue the daydream sequence: Dad’s car pulls in. He honks from the driveway because he doesn’t want to come into the house. He waits and waits and his car’s leaking oil and he’s all spazzy under the seat belt because he’s got that bad back—but I still don’t come out of the house. I never come out because I’m not home. It’s the first court-ordered visitation and I’m not here to go. That’ll show him.

    Cut back to real life, and I’m still sitting in my bedroom. Dad hasn’t made his way here yet. What I have to do is find a way out before he does.

    If this were a movie, I’d jump out the window. A good enough plan, I guess. But if this were an old movie—like from the 1940s before all that color, the kind of movie called a “film,” one where you’d find someone like Rita Hayworth—I wouldn’t even have to jump.

    It’d be nighttime, of course, not 4:42 in the afternoon. There’d be this killer bright light coming in from the window, but in it you’d see only half my face. It’s more cinematic that way. My hair’s dark—no other word to call it but brown—but in this movie it would be pitch-black. It would shine. And I wouldn’t be wearing shorts—I’d have on some long, sparkly dress. Oh—and heels like the spiky ones my mom keeps in the back of her closet even though they hurt her ankles and who knows why she still has them. Plus a hat. I’d have to wear a hat. Back then, girls always wore hats.

    The room would be dark and you’d get a tight close-up of just my face. That’s when I’d do this whole series of expressions with my eyes.

    You’d see fear.






    Plus lots more stuff I don’t even know the words to.

    Then I’d take a few steps out of frame and the shadows would swallow me. And no one would be able to find me after that.

    But this is no movie and I’m just me, Dani Callanzano, not the kind of name you’d see on a marquee. It’s a summer afternoon in upstate New York and I’m thirteen-going-on-fourteen wearing plain shorts and a tank top and sneakers. I’ve got a cell phone with no bars, an empty suitcase on my bed, and a bug bite on my knee that I can’t stop scratching.

    So I don’t jump out the window. I take the stairs and walk out the back door. I’m not about to let the scene fade out on me—not now, and not without a fight.

    And for that, I’d like to thank Rita Hayworth.

  • Meet the Author

    Nova Ren Suma was a fellow in fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She is the author of Imaginary Girls and lives in New York. Find out more at NovaRen.com and follow her on Twitter at @NovaRen.

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    Fade Out 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was good, i enjoyed.