Review: John Belushi Is Dead
John Belushi Is Dead by Kathy Charles
Publisher: MTV Books
From the cover:
Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death.
Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.
John Belushi Is Dead is not your average YA novel and is a book that can be enjoyed by both teenagers and adults. The book covers a wide range of topics from death and loss to grief and acceptance without being overbearing.
Hilda was in the car accident that killed her parents. Although she survived the car accident, she feels that death is waiting for her around every corner. This leads to her morbid fascination with celebrity deaths because it proves that death doesn’t discriminate and it could happen to anyone, even the rich and famous.
What I really loved about this novel was the well written and developed characters and their relationships with one another. The main plot of the story is how Hilda deals with her parent’s death and the grief that comes with it. It shows that everyone deals with these things differently and while some go into denial, others become fascinated with death.
It’s quite unusual to see a teenager develop a friendship with a senior citizen, but I adored the relationship between Hilda and Hank. Both of them carried around deep dark secrets, but through the time they spent together, they were able to open up and slowly come to terms with their lives. Hank was cantankerous and straight forward, but he made Hilda realize the importance of life and living with those who are still alive.
Kathy Charles crafts an edgy and dark yet appealing book with endearing characters in John Belushi Is Dead. It’s an addicting book and one that I would highly recommend!