To Be Someone - Louise Voss Helena Nicholls was once a successful and well known rock star. Now in her early thirties, her star has faded a bit and she’s working as a morning DJ in London and creating quite a buzz with her all-request format highlighting important glimpses into her listeners lives. While Helena’s working life seems to be in order her emotional life is another story.

After meeting up with a former band member at an awards ceremony Helena is coerced into temporarily mending her woes with a dose of cocaine. This poor choice leads to a horrifyingly stupid and very public accident that leaves her badly disfigured and makes all the tabloids. Her weaselly boss visits her hospital bed with news that he intends to give her plenty of time to heal and that she can come back to work doing the graveyard shift. She’s furious and terribly depressed and comes up with “The Plan”. “The Plan” will be her ultimate goodbye to the world in which she’ll write up a request list of her own. Each song she plays during her final show will remind her of a special memory from her past which she’ll share with her listeners.

This book tackles some weighty subjects; serious illness, imperfect selfish parents and suicidal thoughts but it is also just witty enough to keep one from feeling thoroughly depressed. Helena is a broken, jaded, lonely and emotionally drained young woman who after being on the road for a good chunk of her life never took the time to form close friendships outside of her male bandmates and her childhood friend Sam. As she’s recovering from her accident she meets Toby, a cute guy with a young daughter and a comatose wife. Toby and Helena make an immediate connection, becoming fast friends and nearly falling in love (all while Toby’s wife lies helpless just a few doors away). If this were the only version of Helena I’d have put the book away in disgust.

Fortunately, Helena’s life is doled out chapter by chapter alternating between current day and the past and we get to know her intimately. We watch her suffer all of life’s little and much larger hurts as she stumbles through life. Helena is easy to relate to as a chubby heartbroken youngster pulled ruthlessly away from her best friend Sam when her parents relocate from London to America. Her awkwardness and desire to fit in are realistically described and are often painfully funny. Eventually Helena finds her own niche in the world as she discovers her passion, bass guitar, and meets up with and becomes bandmates with Justin (an unlikely match since he’s the school hunk and she’s still chubby and thought of as a bit odd). The two begin a band called “Blue Idea” and become incredibly famous but Helena’s life is filled with an impending sense of doom when Sam becomes ill. The band eventually breaks up and when Helena doesn’t quite know what to do with herself and wallows in complete self-despair it is easy to sympathize with her pain and feelings of hopelessness.

Helena’s playlist for the “The Plan” highlights the most important points in her life and once I started I found it extremely difficult to put the book down. To Be Someone is often painful to read but it’s very real and filled with life, emotion and humor. This book involved me emotionally from beginning to end and I’m very glad I took the time to read it.