The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
408 Pages
Reviewed on 09/09/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl by Julian David Stone is the story of a writer of a struggling TV network who was going to lose his job, but he did something and the tables turned in his favor. Jonny Dirby was trying his hardest to keep his job as a writer on the comedy show called "Hermie's Henhouse" and to make it work for as long as possible. He had to be extra cautious as writers were being fired and blacklisted because of being labeled as Communist sympathizers. So when his network asked him to sign a Loyalty Oath, he knew that he would get into a world of trouble for it. Sooner than he thought, he is fired and he is about to be blacklisted when he comes up with a plan to get revenge and make alterations to a comedy script. However, as luck would have it, the script turns out to be a major success and he is back on the network with better pay and better circumstances. But he has to navigate the way to success while trying to stay clear of network sharks and an actress who has a hidden agenda. How will Jonny survive?

Exceptionally enjoyable and definitely recommended, this novel is a roller coaster ride that demands your attention and wants you to beg for more. The narrative is smooth and very witty; I was laughing out loud and trying to contain my smiles so that I didn’t look like a lunatic to the people around me. Jonny is such a vital and energizing character. He is fresh, original and very believable. I enjoyed his responses, his witty retorts and his whole demeanor. There is something so relatable about him that makes him very endearing and larger than life. I enjoyed the pace, the flow, the characters, and even the tiny tidbits and nuggets that the author left in the narrative for readers to find. All in all, this is a very entertaining and humorous read!

K.C. Finn

The Strange Birth, Short Life and Sudden Death of Justice Girl is an enigmatic and creative work of historical fiction penned by author Julian David Stone. Set during the 1950s when the new wave of excitement over the invention of television was sweeping American homes, our central character is the highly creative writer Jonny Dirby. In a time when live TV provided no safety net for the actors portraying the characters, Jonny’s defiance of popular influence leads him to the accidental creation of the major character Justice Girl. As her popularity becomes infectious, Jonny becomes more and more of a target for those who would take advantage of his success.

Author Julian David Stone has tapped into a truly unique sense of nostalgia, unlocking and educating us about the golden age of television. Highly literary in terms of its quality and content, this is a novel which carries great emotional weight, taking readers through comedic highs, stresses, and strains, as well as taking a deeper look at the influence of the media on culture and behavior, even in its earliest and arguably most powerful stage. The blacklisting process and the McCarthy movement are sure to provide a fascinating education for those who weren’t aware of them, and Jonny’s personal experience fighting these issues is intimately narrated and heartfelt in its presentation. Overall, The Strange Birth, Short Life and Sudden Death of Justice Girl is a superb work of fiction, unique in its conception and perfectly executed.

Astrid Iustulin

When Jonny Dirby gets fired from his television job because he refuses to sign a loyalty oath to the US during the Communist witch hunt, he does not leave peacefully. He picks up his pen and writes a new sketch for a nighttime television show. Then, he presents it to a new actress, Felicity Kensington. Felicity is not a real actress but the daughter of a powerful politician who investigates Communist influence on television. The night Jonny gives her the new script, Felicity becomes Justice Girl, a new heroine who fights evil declaring, “Justice is served!” Julian David Stone’s The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl tells how this new television show becomes an immediate hit, and why its existence is shorter than expected.

It happens that a lucky accident elicits the warmest reception from the audience. It might even become more popular than anything planned. Justice Girl is one of these accidents. Stone describes her rise and fall with a lively and humorous tone that immediately captivates the reader. The characters are fully rounded, and their backstories help readers to understand them and their reasons. I like that the novel is not only about television, but it criticizes the effects of the Communist witch hunt on the lives of innocent people. Justice Girl’s courage prevents cynicism and injustice from triumphing in the end. However, some bitterness remains. The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl is a wonderful book and a memorable journey that lovers of the early years of television will enjoy.

Jamie Michele

The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl by Julian David Stone is a historical fiction story set during the 1950s when the House Committee on Un-American Activities implemented the infamous Hollywood Blacklist. Following his refusal to sign an oath that he isn't a Communist, comedy writer Jonny Dirby is on the way out of a job. When he makes a quick change to insert the character of Justice Girl into his exiting sketch, Dirby and the new character skyrocket in popularity. In turn, his rehiring and newly found strength within an industry consumed by a paranoid witch hunt give him the clout to begin assisting others in the industry who are facing or have been relegated to the Blacklist.

The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl by Julian David Stone is deceptively dark and serious (with spectacular results), a trait somewhat undermined by its whimsical title and cover. I found this to be a clever play on the time and story itself, as Jonny Dirby is able to gloss over the results and circumvent the machinations of an almost tyrannical political undercurrent in Hollywood history with the lightness of Justice Girl. Stone writes with a definite element of levity without compromising the tension of the era or the actual toll it took on the industry. Jonny is the perfect, unintentional protagonist, countered by those who are desperate to bring him down in any way possible, making this a book that anyone who enjoys suspense, history, and entertainment will adore.

Christian Sia

The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl by Julian David Stone is a deftly written historical novel that captures the spirit and politics of an era and a television culture that will grip the attention of readers, a story with a controversial and sophisticated protagonist — Jonny Dirby — and an exciting setting in 1955 in New York City. Jonny creates Justice Girl, a show that captivates the minds of millions of Americans. While he secretly harbors an attraction to the tall, dark-haired, blue-eyed gorgeous girl chosen for the role, in a sudden moment of inspiration he decides to alter the script. Hence was born the catchphrase that would sweep across the country and have viewers spellbound: “Justice is served.”

This is an interesting meld of literary and historical fiction that focuses on the cultural elements of the setting, exploring the phenomenon that was television and the fascination it held for people. The protagonist is an enigmatic, gifted character. The author develops him with skill, starting off by making readers discover the complexity in his personality, for “Even when confronted with the obvious fact that he seemed to relish pushing even the most trivial confrontation to just shy of flying fists, he emphatically denied it.” Julian David Stone takes readers on a journey into the mind of a strong character and explores the genius of the man and the complex nature of his emotions. The writing is gorgeous, the plot well-imagined, and the conflict well-constructed to move the different areas of the plot towards a satisfying denouement. The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl makes for a wonderful read.