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Review: Rhythm and Blues by Jill Murray

November 5, 2010

Rhythm and Blues coverTitle: Rhythm and Blues
Author: Murray, Jill
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, General
Publisher / Year: DoubleDay Canada / 2010
Source: Amazon Kindle store
Rating: 4.5/5
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 :D

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!

20 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2010 10:45 am

    I just read Wildthorn by Jane Eagland for the very same reason! A good one so if you haven’t read it yet I would recommend picking it up at the library. :)

  2. November 5, 2010 11:33 am

    I love the fact that this book deals with major emotional changes without all the angst! It sounds like this is a really good story, and one that I bet my daughter would get a lot out of. It’s interesting to think about all the teen stars today who are forced to change their identity when they come to Hollywood, and it makes me a little sad to think that they have little control about the face they show to the world. That in itself seems particularly timely to me. Great review, Amy! I am glad you loved the book!

    • November 6, 2010 8:09 pm

      Yes, it is great to see no angst zibilee! And the book does a good job of highlighting that the public image we see of celebrities, especially young and emerging ones, will often not be the truth.

  3. November 5, 2010 11:45 am

    Good review. Thanks.

  4. November 5, 2010 3:27 pm

    This sounds very good. I had no idea what it was about, but now I think I need to find it!

    • November 6, 2010 8:10 pm

      Glad to hear it rhapsodyinbooks! I hope you enjoy it if/ when you do find it.

  5. November 5, 2010 3:27 pm

    Sounds like a promising read and as a Toronto resident, I’m even more intrigued that it’s set in the big city I call home :)

  6. November 5, 2010 8:20 pm

    I’m looking forward to this one now! I’ll have to check the first book in the series out first, though, cause that’s how I roll. Haha

    • November 6, 2010 8:11 pm

      I might read it eventually, it’s not GLBTQ though I don’t think Cass. Just to warn :)

  7. November 8, 2010 3:00 pm

    Maybe, these days, I have to be trying more young adult books. Thanks for this review.

    • November 8, 2010 6:04 pm

      I usually don’t read nearly this many young adult books Geosi! It’s actually really weird that I’ve been reading so many this year. Some really good ones though.

  8. November 12, 2010 6:40 am

    Ooo I want – you had me at female breakdancers and it just kept getting better.

    • November 12, 2010 5:59 pm

      *grins* female breakdancers are pretty awesome right Jodie? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


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