Review: Rhythm and Blues by Jill Murray
Title: Rhythm and Blues
Author: Murray, Jill
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, General
Publisher / Year: DoubleDay Canada / 2010
Source: Amazon Kindle store
Why I Read It: Melissa of YA Book Shelf nominated it for the Indie Lit Awards GLBTQ category, which intrigued me enough to pick up a copy on my Kindle. (Why yes, I might be using the nominations as reading recommendations!)
Date Read: 03/11/10
Many of the things in Alya’s life have been unexpected: She never anticipated receiving a full scholarship to the private school she attends; she never thought she would end up as a member of Hydra Force, the hottest all-girl breakdancing crew around, or that she would be “discovered” and asked to be part of a cool new girl group called EnChantay… But that’s what happens to her, and overnight, Alya’s life changes. She moves to Montreal and begins voice lessons, practicing choreography with the two other members of EnChantay, and filming a video for their single. Yet, of all the unexpected things in her life, Alya is most surprised when she finds herself questioning the person she is, and feeling things that she never imagined feeling…all for one of her friends.
So, what a fun little book. First of all, I have to mention that Jill Murray is a Canadian author, and this book is set in the wonderful Canadian cities of Toronto and Montreal. Props for that
This was a light, contemporary young adult novel that was rather interesting. Alya (or Al) seems to have it all. She’s going to a prestigious private school, she has a supportive family, wonderful friends, and is part of an up-and-coming breakdance crew. When she is “discovered” and invited to an audition, Al doesn’t tell her friends or parents because she doesn’t think she will get it. When she does, her life completely changes and she is all of a sudden back and forth to Montreal, taking voice lessons, and learning the finer points of being a part of a new girl group. I know next to nothing about the music business, so although I can say that some things seemed a bit out there, they could very well be accurate.
However, the finer points include things that Al isn’t so comfortable with. Like dressing and acting like a completely different person. When the stylists want to make her into something that she is not, she doesn’t know how to fight back. When the other two girls don’t want to include her, she isn’t sure how to get on their good side. Overall, things have just become much more stressful.
Al has never been interested in guys, but she’s not really sure why. Slowly through the book she learns more about who she is and starts coming out as a lesbian. I loved the way that this was done. It was very believable, and NOT completely angsty like many coming out young adult novels. It was just who she was, and she didn’t struggle with it or hate herself for it.
Al was a strong character, though not throughout. She had her bad decisions, and she suffered from indecision for awhile, but it was very well written and you could see throughout that she was a strong and independent young woman and she would make things turn out her way. I recommend this for all lovers of contemporary young adult books.
Also, this book, being GLBTQ and published in 2010, is eligible for the Independent Literary Awards. Nudge, nudge. Go read it and then nominate it!
Note – this review is MY opinion not that of the entire judging panel!