To Be Someone by Louise Voss
A Novel

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No matter how the lyrics of your life are written, how you play the song is up to you.

Helena Nicholls is no ordinary girl. In fact, she’s famous. For many years she was the bassist and lyricist for Blue Idea, a band worshiped by adoring fans all over the world throughout the eighties. Following their breakup, Helena switched gears and became the most popular morning DJ in London with her all-request show. Listeners could call her and request songs, but Helena wouldn’t play them until the callers gave the details of why they wanted her to play them—where they were when they first heard the song, what they were wearing, who they were with, and why the song means so much to them. The show’s success put Helena back on the map, but now all that’s over.

After a night of partying ends in a horrible accident, Helena wakes up in a hospital bed. As she groggily opens her eyes, she realizes that her irresponsible behavior, so completely uncharacteristic of her, has left her bruised and battered. The doctors tell her it will take months to recover—who knows if her wounded ego will ever heal.

To make matters worse, the accident has made international headlines. Her boss, unhappy with all the negative publicity, has bad news—she has been fired from her prime time radio show and offered a humilating demotion to the two a.m. slot: the graveyard shift. Desperate, depressed, and sure her life is over, Helena comes up with the Plan. She is going to create a playlist of songs that have defined her life and write her autobiography, using these songs as the chapters.

As the Plan begins to unfold, so does this poignant, funny, compulsively readable novel. Stringing the most important aspects of her life together with pop songs from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, Helena starts to deal with all of the unsettled parts of her past and the uncertainty of her future. Whether she’s confronting a new love interest or mourning the recent death of her lifelong best girlfriend, Helena continues to find solace and wisdom in the one thing that has gotten her through every crisis—music. Only one question remains: What will she do for an encore?

A High Fidelity for women, To Be Someone is a hip and engaging novel featuring a unique protagonist given to dark self-introspection but with an irrepressibly funny, self-aware voice—a voice that speaks directly to every woman who has had a best friend, felt awkward moving to a new school, dated the wrong guys, obsessed over a new band, or fought with her mother.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Louise Voss

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LOUISE VOSS worked for years in the music industry in London and New York, for Virgin Records and other companies. She lives near London.From the Hardcover edition.
Published June 3, 2003 by Ballantine Books. 400 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Former rock musician and popular London DJ Helena Nicholls was on top of the world—until she fell off the stage at the UK Music Awards after a little too much cocaine.

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Publishers Weekly

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Each chapter is titled after one of the songs Helena associates with memorable events in her life: the artists include Blondie, Elvis Costello, Sinead O'Connor, the Cure and the Jam, with the latter's song providing the book's title.

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Entertainment Weekly

Music fans of a certain era will instantly recognize the title of Voss' novel as that of a song by the Jam, and the book shares a sense of nostalgia with its namesake.

Nov 02 2001 | Read Full Review of To Be Someone: A Novel

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