I had a little trouble positioning myself as I read Andrea Fehsenfeld’s A Rainbow Like You. One one hand it tells the tale of a rock musician but, on the other, how media willfully can misrepresent somebody, often for their own ambitions.
I’ve been both, a musician and in the media, primarily as a journalist. I can comment or identify with both.
I think I’ve got it now. I don’t have to. I doubt that Fehsenfeld aimed her novel at either, intending it to be read by the average reader who doesn’t have much to do with rock or the music industry. Maybe they have a few impressions, but not much else. They can read A Rainbow Like You without fear – be the average person.
So, I’ve tried to look at it like that. Fehsenfeld makes that easy but it’s hard not to relate to certain truths that, for me, makes the book more believable.
But first, who is Andrea Fehsenfeld?
She’s better known as a TV producer and has been around both rock and the media. She knows whereof she speaks.
Fehsenfeld doesn’t write about how much the music industry has changed or how musicians and the industry have had to adapt to it. That’s a huge, complicated topic that conceivably hijack her story.
Her protagonist, Adrian ‘Jazzer’ Johnson is more what might be thought of as a rock star, leading the rock star life. He is dealing with that, his relationship with band and crew, his management and record label, his relationship with fans, a several personal issues including a divorce and estrangement from his father. He also has a writer’s block.
Into Adrian’s life comes Hastings, a 13 year old black girl, who has stowed away on his luxurious touring bus, which also has become his home. She won’t leave to that, tells him little of her past and knows little of his music. He has a career that will take him on tour to New Orleans to authorities that know her and find her new foster parents.
Hastings early on has discovered Adrian is colour blind while she hears music in colours, synethesia.
At this point, A Rainbow Like You could be predictable but, to her, credit, Fehsenfeld throws in a few curves that change but still validates the story.
For me, it’s not difficult to understand his band, Size Of A Scandal. Even at my level – that is, little known- being in a band and dealing with relationships is a little like that cliche – it’s a marriage or a dysfunctional family. And I have been around the music business to know what that’s like.
I do wonder what it was like to be a woman writing from a male point of view in a male dominated milieu. You get the feeling that she is trying too hard and has thrown in a few words or terms that identify Adrian as a male – even if he wouldn’t.
She isn’t one of the boys, but that qualm is a hurdle she leaps.