Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star by Joyce Raskin and Carol Chu

What You Need to Know:  Fourteen year old Alex finds herself via playing bass and skateboarding in this slight novel.

Summary:  Alexis, age 14, is miserable.  She is neither blonde, nor pretty, nor cool.  All she can do is cry and mope.  However, once her older brother suggests that she learn to play bass in a friend's band, her life turns around.  Now a "rock-chick",  she wears combat boots and revels in her new found coolness. But just being on the bass and in the band might not be enough for Alex. 

What Worked:  Alex, formerly obsessed with being like the girls in magazines, figures herself out by the end of the book.  Kind of.   Chu's doodles, while not vital to the text, add a fun and whimsical note. 

What Didn't:  The only word I can use to describe this book is lightweight.  And, that's a shame, as it glosses over some fairly heavy issues.  Sexism in music, teen gender roles, sexual assault, drugs, cheating boyfriends -- they're all here, and none are examined very deeply. 

This book is very short, only 112 pages, with some of the back matter devoted to how-tos on buying and playing a guitar and writing songs.   The slimness might work to attract reluctant readers, but it works against creating a compelling story.  Amazing things happen to Alex, but the story doesn't pause to contemplate them, as it moves on to the next chapter. 

Finally, the voice felt a little young for me, and aside from the drug use, I could see this being more appealing to a middle grade audience. 

Who would I give this book to:  Reluctant readers with an interest in music.

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