“You have to turn it up so that your chest shakes and the drums get in between your ribs like a heartbeat and the bass goes up your spine and frizzles your brain and all you can do is dance or spin in a circle or just scream along because you know that however this music makes you feel, it’s exactly right.”
Basically: Audrey’s break up with Evan leads to an international hit song and the inability to leave her house without being chased by rabid fans. Robin Benway’s debut novel is a classic Taylor Swift song from the ex’s point of view.
As music lovers, we’ve all wanted it at some point: to fall in love with a musician and have them write a song in our honour. Usually, though, we imagine the lyrics as eloquent testimonials to our very best qualities and absolutely not a song about how we screwed them over.
That’s what happens to Audrey. She breaks up with Evan, he writes a song, and a few months later, it’s a number one Billboard hit. Worse, Evan’s new fanbase is obsessed with her, shining the spotlight on a reluctant Audrey who’s trying to stay sane in between making out with rockstars and studying for the SATs.
Benway’s writing and realistic characters pull us into Audrey’s world like a whirling circle pit. Aud’s BFF Victoria is loyal and funny and the coolest girl in any room. Theirs is a beautiful friendship based on music, sarcasm, and unconditional love even when one–or both–of them are being unreasonable.
Another standout character, apart from our music-obsessed protagonist herself, is Audrey’s mixtape-making (can we bring that tradition back, please?) potential love interest James. The epitome of the sweetheart boy-next-door, he works in an ice cream shop, which is reason enough to root for him because, hello, free ice cream. And did we mention the mixtape with the personalized case? Swoon!
Descriptions of concerts feel like home and Audrey’s experience makes you wonder if the pros of dating a musician really outweigh the cons (Pro: backstage access. Con: tabloids, paparazzi, lack of privacy…). Each chapter starts with relevant lyrics from some of our favourite bands: Taking Back Sunday, The Academy Is…, Jack’s Mannequin, Anberlin, etc; it’s the bookish equivalent to a solid playlist.
In the end: Read it! Like a catchy teaser for a new album, you’ll be equal parts exhilarated by what you have and anxious for more material.