Publisher: Pocket Books | Published: March 1, 1984 | Pages: 284
This was my first time reading Frank Lauria. The metal book cover drew me in, so I gave it a read. The whole story caught me off guard. Turns out, the book is nothing like the book cover. I thought The Foundling was going to be about heavy metal, or at the very least, rock and roll. It had inklings of music within, but it was mainly about an orphan named Dani.
The Foundling starts off with some background of a couple, Jeff and Ruth, who adopt Dani. Jeff and Ruth had a tough go of it in the 1960s when Jeff was the lead singer of the band Jeff Austin and the Vigilantes. While Jeff’s band was performing at an outdoor concert, their 3 year old daughter dies suddenly after grabbing an electrical cable on stage. Ruth ends up miscarrying soon after their daughters shocking death.
Now, with their hippy pasts behind them, Jeff and Ruth move to Bridgeport, CT, trying to rekindle their flame. Jeff is a successful jingle producer and Ruth works in a fashionable boutique. They eventually decide to adopt a baby, but there are no babies availabe to adopt. So, they decide to adopt Dani. She’s 12 years old, the same age their daughter would’ve been. I know, creepy right?
If only Jeff and Ruth knew about Dani’s past. Too bad they didn’t read the prologue, or they’d know that Dani’s mom was a hooker who dumped her with nuns. Turns out Dani has a secret third nipple that’s hidden right below her armpit. They also didn’t notice Dani’s effect on the nuns at her Catholic orphanage. Who knew there would be crazy old nuns in this book? Not me. The whole nun thing really creeped me out, especially the nun’s actions.
While hanging around her new house, Dani sings every chance she gets, hoping Jeff would overhear. She records demos in her room, and she accidently plays one of her demos in the recording studio with Jeff and Eric Jordan, a fading rock star. The two men take notice of Dani and her singing voice. But it’s Ruth who noticed something different and sinister. Turns out Dani has psychic powers centered around her harmones. Sound familiar? You betcha. When she gets her first period all the matches in the house explode into flames. A car full of mean guys who saw Dani’s boobs wreck into a gas tanker and explodes into flames. While recording his album, Eric Jordan tried to put the moves on Dani. Things don’t turn out great for him either. A strange wind blows his cocaine out of his penthouse window. As he’s checking things out, the glass patio door explodes, driving a a huge shard of glass into his manhood.
The strange doesn’t stop there. We’re nowhere near the finish line. Frank Lauria turns the weird up to eleven. Dani somehow manipulates Jeff into thinking Ruth has an alcohol problem, so he sends Ruth to therapy with Father Bernucci. Since she can’t convince the Catholic priest she’s not an alcoholic, Ruth becomes an actual alcoholic, which turns out horrible for her. While she mixes pills and alcohol, all the faucets turns on in the house and Ruth drowns in the basement. While she is dying a terrible death, Jeff is being seduced by his studio assistant, Pam, across town.
Jeff learns about Dani’s third nipple and how it drove a nun mad. He finds out Dani inherited her extra nipple from her mother, an old lounge singer living in Vegas named Diane Shelley. She apparently shaved her vagina and got the face of Satan tattooed on it. How crazy is Dani’s biological mother? She lived on the Manson Ranch in the 1960s. To top it off, Charlie Manson was Dani’s babysitter.
The Foundling is all about nipples. Frank Lauria’s writing is pretty good. The story is cheesy and kind of unsettling in that creepy uncle kind of way. I wouldn’t read it again. It doesn’t have any depth. It wasn’t as compelling as I’d hoped. The ending fell flat, too.
I say all of this to tell you: two nipples are good, three nipples are evil.