What’s the Big Idea?
The Big Idea is a novel by Nerissa Nields. It tells the story of the Becket Family, a homeschooled trio of siblings from Jintucket Massachusetts who form a rock band when they are in their late teens and early twenties. The novel follows them over the course of a decade, and then picks up twenty years later. There will be an accompanying soundtrack for the book. The Big Idea’s songs will be sung and played by Nerissa and Katryna Nields, Dave Hower and Dave Chalfant. Liv First’s songs will be sung by Dar Williams.
Meet the Beckets
Peter. Oldest child, visionary, on a mission to achieve eternal life through his pursuit of his ambition, which is nothing short than changing the face of pop culture, like his heroes the Beatles, and Phillip Petite, the high wire artist who danced a mile above lower Manhatten on August 8, 1974, the day the Beckets moved from New York City to a small college town in Western Massachusetts. He plays guitar and writes songs. He falls in love with a Yale grad named Liv First.
Rhodie. Middle child, introverted, introspective, deeply connected to her family, secretly a virgin at the age of 22. She is the best songwriter in the band, and like a songwriter, is constantly looking for the right metaphor, the hook, the meaning of things. She adores her brother and is furious when he falls in love and begins to edge toward a life independent of the family. She has a huge crush on the band’s new bass player, Jack Slade.
Zhsanna. Youngest child, wild and undisciplined with a heart as big as Texas and a voice that transports its listeners to another time and place. When the band is a trio, she is its drummer, but once they add Jack to the mix, the band wants to replace her, put her more in the spotlight. She recruits Mose Healey to join the band.
Meet the In-Laws and Out-Laws
Olivia (“Liv”) First. A disciplined Yale-educated third-wave feminist and sometime anorexic struggling with her desire to be loved, to fit in with the Beckets and somehow be adopted by them, she falls in love with Peter and the band when she sees them play as a trio at the Daily Caffe in New Haven. She sees how easy it would be for them to get famous if they only made a few good decisions, and she attempts to manage them. But they are a bit ungovernable.
Jack Slade. Seven years older than Peter, Jack is the best bass player in Jintucket. Getting him in the band would be a huge coup for the nascent Big Idea, and a little daunting for Peter who was kicked out of a Jack-led band (Notorious Ingrid) in the recent past. Jack is married to Susie, a recovering heroin addict, and the father of Millie, their young child.
Mose Healey. Raised by a single mother in Somerville, and also by a couple of Jesuit brothers from Worcester, Mose wears a Trust bracelet and is flirting with a future as a priest. But he loves music, and he is intrigued by the band’s invitation to join them. He is an easy, lovable dude who reminds Rhodie of Hephaestus. When his band Tourniquet breaks up, he inherits their van, which becomes the de facto home of the Big Idea for much of the span of the novel.
Meet the Parents
Rita Puccino Becket. Daughter of Italian immigrants, she fell in love with Harry when they were in a Gypsy-inspired production of Kiss Me Kate. She homeschooled her three children, teaches yoga, modern dance and drama, and dreams of traveling the world.
Harry Becket. Son of old money, he dabbled in various careers, and his basement displays the relics of various paths not taken—law school, massage school, carpentry––before he settle on writing a series of chapter books for young readers that featured a character named Julius Collie and his trusty sidekick Rude Cat.
The book is about fame, immortality/mortality, ambition, addiction, recovery, love, redemption and engagement with others. The book is told from multiple points of view and takes the reader all over the continent. You can read an excerpt of it here.