Monday, December 8, 2008

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone-- Stephanie Kuehnert

I have met hundreds and hundreds of teenagers in my line of work and they all have one thing in common: they are passionate about music. Really. Ask ten teens what their favorite book is, and there will be a few who won't come up with anything. Ask them who their favorite singer/band is and they will struggle to narrow down their list.

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Huehnert is sure to be a hit with older teens... but make sure to get it into the right teens' hands. It's a brutally honest tale about Emily Black, a who grows up in nowheresville, Wisconsin. She was raised by her musician father and music is literally the driving force behind her life. Emily loses her virginity at 14, drunk, to a "rock-god" who ultimately disappoints her. Swearing to never feel powerless because of a man again, Emily forms her own punk-girl band, rocks harder, parties longer, and is more talented than any other musician on the scene. Although she is emotionally crippled by being abandoned by her mother as an infant, Emily trudges her way top and finds solace in the one thing that has never failed her: music.

I was really surprised by this book. I picked it up looking for a light read this weekend, but found it to be engrossing and ultimately a harder read than I thought. Reading about the abuse Emily puts up with, really does to herself, was challenging. I did feel drawn by the magnetic pull of an underground music scene, and there were times I wished the characters were real people so I could pull them out of the drug and sex induced coma they kept throwing themselves into. I think teen girls who like edgy fiction, music (especially punk), books about drugs, and strong female characters will like this book. I would recommend it to readers of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, punk rock bios, or other musical fiction.

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