Oh My Stars (2005) is the first novel by Lorna Landvik that I have read. It was touching and funny.
In this novel set during the depression, 18-year-old Violet Mathers has decided to take the bus from her hometown in Kentucky to San Francisco so she can be the second person ever to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Violet’s had it rough…she has been told all her life she is ugly, her mother deserted her as a child, and her father treats her with contempt. To top it off, she losses her arm to a thread machine in a factory accident when she is only 16 years old. With her dreams of becoming a fashion designer/seamstress dashed, Violet decides to end it all. Thus the bus trip, though I am not sure why the bus takes a very northern route to get to San Francisco.
A bus accident lands her in a small town in North Dakota where, because there is no hotel, a family takes her in. Meeting Kjel (pronounced “Shell”), one of the sons of the family, changes her mind temporarily. She begins traveling the roads with Kjel, and his friends Austin and Dallas; soon Elwin joins them and they form a band. Violet becomes the band manager and slowly finds value in her life. Kjel is pretty much a prototype of Elvis; the band finds success and is on the cusp of a break to the big time when tragedy strikes.
Each chapter begins with an elderly Violet telling her own tale, and the tales of the others, talking to the reader as if they are at a bus stop diner. This narration style is charming and the novel very good and entertaining read.