Jill Kargman’s The Rock Star in Seat 3A

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s Hazel Lavery’s 30th birthday party. Her live-in boyfriend, Wylie, a chef, has just cooked an amazing dinner for Hazel, her sister, Kira and her husband Steven, and friends Drew, Anne, Tate, P.J., and Gadi. After some dishing about celebrities, Anne comes up with a challenge: Name your celebrity crush and with a pass from your signifiant other “you could totally bone them.”

Anne begins, naming Orlando Bloom as her crush, Kira singles out Twilight’s Robert Pattinson, Drew, Natalie Portman, and Tate the 1987 version of Pamela Anderson. When it’s Hazel’s turn, Wylie beats her to the punch, naming the lead singer and songwriter from the rock group The Void. “It’s Finn Schiller. She’s obsessed.” Hazel admits he’s right. “He’s one of the best songwriters ever,” she says. Putting her hand over her heart she intones, “I love him….I am just drawn to him, he’s always had this power over me, like he’s a six-foot magnet and my bones are coated in metal.”

The evening’s fun and games come to a close. While Wylie jumps into the shower—his routine after a night of heavy cooking—Hazel snuggles into bed. In shock she stares at the ceiling where Wylie, with glow-in-the-dark stars, has spelled out: MARRY ME HAZEL. She should be excited, right? She loves Wylie, has just turned 30 and settling down is the next logical, even welcome, step. But her gut reaction—-Ohmygodohmygod—seems like a warning sign. Not yet, too soon. She rolls over, feigns sleep, and manages to avoid answering Wylie when he comes to bed.

Hazel, a gamer practically from the time she was born, works for the video game company, Badass. Exiting the apartment before Wylie wakes up, she’s off to Los Angeles to set up the promotion for the company’s new video game, Pimps N’ Ho’s Five. With all of her frequent flyer miles she’s upgraded to first class. And, you guessed it, her seat partner turns out to be Finn Schiller. “My fantasy, my icon, my rock god, in seat 3A.”

What’s a girl to do? Appear nonchalant, like sitting next to a rock star is an everyday occurrence? Try to impress—not hard to do since Hazel has memorized his entire song list. No, instead she attempts to gross him out, not on purpose, when the plane hits mega-turbulence and she ends up with her face in the airplane’s barf bag.

Turns out Finn is not only a genius musician, he’s a gentlemen. He risks being tossed about the plane when he leaves his seat to snag her a bottle of water. He’s also one of Badass’s biggest fans and when he learns that Hazel is searching for a venue to stage the launch for Pimps ‘N Ho’s Five, he offers up a piece of property he owns, the most badass loft-like space in L.A., with unbelievable views.

We’ve seen this plot before—gal (or guy) suddenly finds herself (or himself) in a love affair with the world’s biggest celebrity. (Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, or Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, for example). Yet Kargman gives this familiar plot a newfound freshness, anchored by a female character whose confusion, ambivalence, and anxiety when she is faced with a life-changing decision is totally understandable. No, it’s not War and Peace, but it’s such a fun ride we willingly sign on, enjoying every twist and turn until we finally learn Hazel’s choice.

Whether her characters are “Momzillas,” “Ex-Mrs. Hedgefunds,” or “Arm Candy,” Kargman manages to create characters that feel real, no doubt because she does her research before she begins to write. In Rock Star she goes one better, actually giving us lyrics written by the fictional Finn Schiller. Not only do these stanzas help us to understand Finn’s motivation and state of mind, they’re good! Creative, poetic, insightful. We can understand how Hazel fell in love with the man after having his words in her head.

What keeps us hooked, however, is the fantasy. Who wouldn’t want the chance, even for a short time, to be with that one person we fantasize about? Hazel meets her rock star and enjoys the ride. We do, too.

The Rock Star in Seat 3A
Jill Kargman

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Read our stories about Jill:
Woman Around Town: Jill Kargman—Richly Funny
Jill Kargman: The Real F***ing Deal

About Charlene Giannetti (839 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including the New York Times. She is the author of 12 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her new book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.

1 Comment on Jill Kargman’s The Rock Star in Seat 3A

  1. Sounds like the perfect summer read. I’m downloading it right now!

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