Deadheads and Mosh-pits

DeadHeads and Mosh-pits: Books about being in a band


2007
05.03
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Excuse me, but can I see your backstage pass?

I don’t know about you, but when I was a teen, one of my biggest fantasies was to be in a band. Come to think of it, one of my biggest fantasies NOW is to be in a band. Being on-stage is, without a doubt, the coolest part. However, there’s a lot more to being in a band than just wearing tight leather pants and owning the spotlight. There’s also long rehearsal hours, big arguments with your bandmates and mind-numbing touring. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s more to being a Rolling Stone than just the rock and “rolling.” These reads tell the whole story about being in a band–not just the glamour puss part. So, rock n’ read!

Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers


2012
03.15


supergirl
Maria was born in New York City, but she hasn’t been back since her parents split and she ended up living with her dad in Georgia. Her family has always warned her that her mom Victoria, a free spirited artist living in Greenwich Village, is not exactly parent material. But now that she’s practically an adult, Maria is ready to find out for herself, and convinces her grandmother and dad to let her live with her mom and go to school in NYC for her junior year. Armed with the Supergirl Mixtapes of bad ass female singers that her best friend Dory made for her, Maria feels prepared to take on the creativity and chaos of New York and her downtown artist mom. Except that from the minute she sets foot in the Big Apple, Maria is beset with problems. First of all, she hates her new school, where mean girls quickly label her a Southern hick. Then there’s the issue of her mother’s live-in boyfriend Travis, who’s hot, rides a motorcycle, and is only six years older than Maria. Finally there’s unreliable Victoria herself, who is constantly racing off to rock shows with her friends and acts and dresses like she’s still sixteen years old. What makes matters worse is when Maria finds a baggie of suspicious white powder in her mom’s bathroom. Who do the drugs belong to? Maria begins to wonder if she can trust her mom to tell her the truth. Will Maria end up back in Georgia listening to her dad say, “I told you so” after all? Or will she find it in herself to conquer the city that never sleeps while forcing her mom to act like a grown-up? This heartfelt novel is a bit of a love note to a New York of not-so-long-ago, one where you could still catch a show at CBGBs, or look up and figure out where you were by your proximity to the World Trade Towers. Meagan Brothers does a lovely job of capturing that moment in time by referencing bands and artists from both the 90’s and New York’s historically rich downtown music scene. The music of Nirvana, Jeff Buckley, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell all flow through the pages of Brothers’ novel, and will no doubt have you pulling up Pandora or Spotify to take a listen as you read. And can we agree this is the Best. Cover. Ever? Enjoy–

Where She Went by Gayle Forman


2011
04.05


where she went

It’s been three years since the car accident that changed Mia and Adam’s lives forever. Mia lost her entire family and nearly died herself. Adam stayed devotedly by her side during her recovery. As soon as she was well enough, Mia went to Julliard in New York while Adam stayed in Oregon to finish school and play with his band, Shooting Star. They were committed to making their long distance relationship work. Then, without warning, Mia cut off all communication with Adam. Stunned, Adam sank into a deep depression that resulted in the creation of his band’s breakout record. Now Adam is a reluctant rock star and Mia is an accomplished professional cellist. But Adam still thinks about Mia everyday, and by chance, attends one of her concerts in New York on his way to a tour in London. What happens next brings to mind one of my favorite movies, Before Sunrise, as Adam and Mia finally meet again and spend a memorable night walking around New York, catching up and reminiscing. But does Adam have the courage to confront Mia about why she left him? And is he strong enough to handle her answer? “I’ve blamed her for all of this, for leaving, for ruining me. And maybe that was the seed of it, but from that one little seed grew this tumor of a flowering plant. And I’m the one who nurtures it. I water it. I care for it. I nibble from its poison berries. I let it wrap around my neck, choking the air right out of me. I’ve done that. All by myself. All to myself.” This incredibly satisfying sequel to If I Stay is written from Adam’s POV, and is just as full of longing, heartbreak and gorgeous writing as its predecessor. I flew through it in a single day, dying to see what Mia’s mysterious reasons were and hoping against hope that the two star crossed lovers would get back together. Do they? Well, you better race to your nearest library or bookstore, or grab your Kindle, iPad, or Nook to find out! (And dudes, please don’t mind the gorgeous girl on the cover, this book IS written from a guy’s POV, even if it doesn’t look like it.)

Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee


2010
05.05


somebody
Retta Lee Jones has a dream to become a famous country singer like Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline. She’s just been marking time in high school, waiting tables at Bluebell’s Diner and longing for the moment when she can leave her small town forever and head for the bright lights of Nashville. A few weeks after graduation, in her great-aunt Goggy’s aged Caprice Classic and with just $500 in her jeans pocket, Retta takes off, hoping that talent, drive and determination will be enough to make her dreams come true. But if you’ve ever listened to any country music, you know that’s about as likely as cat getting out of a room full of rocking chairs with it’s tail intact. First she gets in a car accident. Then she gets mugged, losing the rest of her small savings. Soon she’s sleeping in the back seat of the Caprice and bathing homeless style in public restroom sinks. Retta manages to score a singing gig in a local dive outside Nashville, but the cheap owner rarely remembers to pay her, while the audience is pretty small and mostly made up of senior citizens. It seems like every bad thing that ever happened in a country song is happening to Retta–until she snares a spot singing at open-mike night at the Mockingbird Café, a famous Nashville club where lots of singers have been discovered. But just as things are looking up, Retta gets a devastating phone call. Her family is in crisis, and they need her to come home. Will this songbird ever be given the opportunity to fly? Or will her wings be clipped by unfortunate circumstances and bad luck? It’s so refreshing to read a book about a topic that’s hasn’t been rehashed about six thousand times already in YA Lit. Supplee’s chapter headings are famous country music songs that form a playlist for Retta’s journey, along with brief bios of the singers themselves. I loved learning quick facts about country stars from Patty Loveless to Keith Urban and everyone in between. Retta’s determination not to give up in the face of terrible odds is sincere and hopeful without being sappy. While country music may not be your thang, this is one novel that’s long on lit. and short on twang :) (I know, I know. You’re good to bear with me.)

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd


2009
03.10


carbon diaries
Sixteen-year-old Brit Laura Brown just wants to rock out with her punk band, the dirty angels. Unfortunately, the environment keeps getting in the way. Due to the violent global warming storms that keep ravaging greater Europe, the England of the near future has decided to lead the way to a greener planet by being the first country to try “carbon rationing.” Everyone is issued their own “carbon card,” a credit card that monitors how much CO2 your personal lifestyle is unleashing on the atmosphere. Pretty much anything that uses electricity or gas causes the emission of carbon dioxide, so suddenly everyone is shivering and walking instead of turning up the thermostat or hopping in the car to run to the store. Laura’s family takes the new rationing especially hard: selfish sis Kim uses up all her points immediately then locks herself in room and refuses to come out, Mom joins a wacky women’s collective that believes in the power of positive thinking, and Dad falls into a drunken downward spiral after being laid off. Laura’s had it with all of them, and is too busy stalking her hot but aloof next door neighbor Ravi to get involved in their personal dramas. But it soon becomes clear that if they don’t learn to pull together, they’ll be torn apart by the blackouts, looting and fuel shortages that are devastating London as a result of the rationing. Like the sassy British cousin of my favorite eco-thriller, Laura’s in-your-face diary describes what it’s like to be a teen at the end of the world as you know it and still feel fine. In spite of the chaos and craziness that surrounds her, Laura still manages to rage, rock, fall in love and keep her head when everyone around her is losing theirs. A timely first novel that unfortunately feels all too real.

Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers


2008
03.05

Johnny is a black-nail-polish-and-eyeliner-wearing recovering alcoholic who loves The Cure, The Ramones, and, ever since rehab, Blondie. Maria is a Goth-girl-on-the-rocks who dances by herself to Nico, The Clash, and Patti Smith. Neither one thinks anyone will ever love them, until they pogo into each other in a mosh pit at a local all-ages club. It’s Love and Rockets at first sight, except for the troubling fact that Maria initially thought Johnny was gay. Why? Just because he likes to Robert-Smith-it up a little? Johnny knows he’s not gay, or he wouldn’t dig Maria so much. But what do you call it when you like girls, but you secretly want to try on that little white dress from the thrift store that looks exactly like the one Debbie Harry wears on the cover of Parallel Lines? This hip work by newbie author Meagan Brothers encourages readers to explore the meanings of all the shades of gray that exist between gay and straight. Johnny and Maria’s romance is realistic, sweet, and quite unlike any other I’ve read about in teen books. After all, how many girlfriends would encourage their boyfriends to enter a drag contest? If you like Freak Show by James St. James or Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger, you’re gonna love DHSF.

Beige by Cecil Castellucci


2007
10.28

beigeKaty is so safe, so closed up and locked down, that when punk Goth-girl Lake meets her for the first time, she dubs Katy “Beige.” But how else is Katy supposed to act? As the product of a punk-rock love affair between Rat, the recovering drug addict-drummer of the infamous band Suck, and her mom, a reformed groupie who is now a buttoned up archeologist, Katy is terrified to let her true self out in case she ends up repeating her parents’ mistakes. So she smiles sweetly and does what she’s told, even when her mom tells her she’s going on an archelogical dig to Peru, which means Katy’s gonna have to spend the whole summer with her dad, who she barely knows. Talk about SUCK! Now Katy’s steady-eddie temperament is being sorely tested by her chatty, tattooed dad, who never seems to know when to shut up, his loud music, and his best friend’s teenage daughter Lake, who’s been bribed into hanging out with Katy. As I said before, Lake thinks Katy’s beige. Will Katy be able to prove that underneath her unruffled manner she’s really fuchsia? This rockin’ read from Plain Jane Cecil Castellucci is all about not being afraid to show your true colors. And even though it’s a book, it’s got a sweet soundtrack—just download the song titles that start each chapter to get an audio idea of Katy’s state of mind as she moves from beige to brilliant! Want more Cecil? The check out her other anti-chick-lit, Boy Proof.

Girl by Blake Nelson


2007
05.04


girl
Welcome to Portland, the “other Seattle.” Meet Andrea Marr, a chick on the edge of the early 90’s alternative atmosphere. Throughout her four years of high school, Andrea moves from big-haired mall GIRL to cynical-grunge Girl and what a trip it is! Falling in and out of love with all the wrong guys, she learns where she fits in her world, and that maybe it’s better to be on your own than with a loser. You’ll be sure to recognize yourself and most of your friends in this exuberant introduction to the alternative-rock scene. This was the first Blake Nelson novel I ever read, and I’ve been in love ever since. Make sure and check out some of his other books on RR: Paranoid Park, Prom Anonymous and Rock Star, Superstar.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan


2007
05.03

Nick & Norah's Infinite PlaylistNick’s a straight bass player in a queer core band, sometimes called The F*offs, sometimes called Porn Yesterday, and occasionally None of Your Business. He’s trying to forget Tris, his ex-private school girlfriend who goes through nice boys like Kleenex. Norah is an indie-band spotter, a smart, flannel-clad straight-edger who prefers that no one know her father is a very famous record executive. She’s trying to forget Tal, a pretentious eco-warrior who never thought she was good enough for him. They meet in a dark club, share a serious kiss under bizarre circumstances (don’t ask) and head off into the Manhattan night to see if they can make their straight edges overlap. Nick and Norah will share one wild night that could amount to nothing or lead to forever. This novel is so hot it’s cool, penned in alternating chapters by hipster authors Rachel (Gingerbread) and David (Boy Meets Boy). Strictly for the PG-13 crowd, (note to readers: you’ll never look at a soda machine quite the same again) this out loud and proud tribute to sweaty punk music and raging teenage hormones will leave you head thrashing for more! And please make sure you see the a-mah-zing movie version starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings which, while not entirely true to the text, is still about six kinds of awesome!

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman


2007
05.03

Born to RockLeo Caraway is a straight-A, (as in grades) Type A, (as in hyper-organized) kind of guy, so his Young Republican world is completely rocked when he accidently discovers that his biological dad is none other than King Maggot, the lead singer of the famous punk band Purge. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Leo has just lost his financial ride to Harvard, and is looking for a way to score some hard cash for school. It occurs to him that his newly discovered millionaire dad might be willing to part with some change if Leo can get close enough to give King’s heart (and purse) strings a little tug. So that’s how Leo finds himself spending his summer vacation on the road with Purge, slinging speakers and moving microphone stands, while trying to show King Maggot a little father/son love. But just when Leo is about to hit up King for his tuition, the paternity test results that King ordered at the beginning of the summer come back and both Leo and King are in for another big surprise. Hilarious, and sporting a fabulous cover, Born to Rock is a great story about family, punk music, and discovering your true, bad ass self.

Contact

Jen Hubert Swan
Librarian, Book Reviewer,
Reading Addict
swampophelia27@yahoo.com