My friend Beth recommended this to me AGES ago, and now after I finally read it, I wonder what took me so long to heed her advice. (Oh good lord, it was over a year ago, I’m horrible.)
Once in a while, I get into this mood where I want to do nothing but read YA fiction. Never mind the fact that I’m WAY past being a teenager, like, I can’t even see the shadow of teenagedom behind me. There’s just something so good about them. Yes, they’re usually faster to read, but I usually love the protagonists more, or they’re funnier, or they’re just more interesting. I identify with them more, I guess. Maybe it’s because they still have so much life in them as I turn into a dried out husk of a person. Wait, does that make me some kind of vampire?
Allie lives in Berkeley, home of the hippie, and works at the local independent record store. Yes, record. Oh sure, they have the latest CDs for the trendy weekenders, but the heart and soul of the store are the vinyl records. (You do know what those are, right? Large pizza-sized discs of black plastic where there’s one long spiraling groove and if you run a needle along the groove, music comes out of it. Pretty archaic, I know.) Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mother who is working on her dissertation and her love life. Allie’s best friend Kit works at a vintage clothing store down the street from Allie, and bemoans her love life. Allie has no love life, other than with music.
At least not until the mysterious guy (or “M” as she names him) wanders into her record store and her life.
Okay, now you might be all, “Blah blah, teen romance, blah, barf.” But really, for me the romantic aspects of this book was kind of a side story. The real story is Allie and her absolute devotion to music. The author is the co-founder of the famous Amoeba Records, so all of her love for music is poured into Allie. This book has me missing my turntable (it broke years ago) and wanting to create playlists of the songs mentioned. Allie is a wonderful character–imperfect, flawed, relatable, human. She’s funny and wry. She grounds her ding-y best friend. She puts up good-humoredly with her mother. She also is quick to make assumptions, is stingy about sharing her friends and family, and maybe isn’t as experimental as she should be (c’mon, all that good Indian food in Berkeley, and she always gets paneer?). I really enjoyed this book. YA fiction needs more protagonists like this, and less like Bella Swan (bleh).
Oh, and FYI, my first record was Songs from the Big Chair by Tears for Fears. I bought it during a magazine sale. Second was Depeche Mode’s Some Great Reward from Tower Records. I can’t remember my first tape or CD, but record definitely left an impression. What was your first album, and what form of media was it?