I was recently given the opportunity to read and review Dawn Hawkins’ debut novel, Danny’s Grace. I’m thrilled to have been chosen as a beta reader, and I’m so glad I can share this review with you before the book is even released. Within the next week, I’ll be posting an interview with Ms. Hawkins, so that you’ll have the chance to get to know this exciting new author a little better.
Danny’s Grace tells the story of a former teen idol (Danny Rush) being interviewed by a woman (Grace) who wants to write a book about him. During the course of the interview, he takes her back through his life, hitting high points and low points and everything in between.
The characters in this book are intense. Ms. Hawkins brings each new character to life within a few sentences of their introduction into the novel, making them into real people who plant themselves into your heart and mind almost immediately. Love them or hate them, they’re going to stick with you.
Danny’s tale isn’t an easy one to read, but the story is so compelling that you can’t help but finish it. From an abusive childhood, to an over-the-top instant stardom in his teens, to the self-imposed isolation of his middle forties, you get to follow his life and see how everything shaped him. He takes Grace back through his life, keeping up a running commentary with the reader via his inner voice. His mind/consciousness is his constant companion: sometimes a friend, sometimes a voice of reason, sometimes a scapegoat.
Abuse and survival, love and loss, vulnerability and callousness. You get to see them all in Danny’s life. He’s been phenomenally wealthy and terribly poor, on top of the world and in the depths of horrors most of us can’t fathom. He’s been reviled and revered, oftentimes simultaneously, by others and by himself. Readers will alternate between wanting to cheer for him, wanting to protect him, and wanting to shake him by the shoulders and ask him what he thinks he’s doing. Having aspects of a hero and a villain, a champion and a victim, motives both good and questionable, he’s far from perfect. But he’s very real, and someone that you have to follow all the way to the end of his story.
Can he escape himself? Or can he face himself, and learn to love the man who has survived it all?
Danny’s Grace is being released on January 28th. You can pre-order it here.