Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ballads of Suburbia” as Want to Read:
Ballads of Suburbia
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ballads of Suburbia

by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  851 ratings  ·  137 reviews
An aspiring film writer tells about her troubled teen years in the Chicago suburbs when she and her friends tried to escape the pain of their lives through rock music and drugs.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by MTV Books (first published July 15th 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ballads of Suburbia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ballads of Suburbia

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyGoing Too Far by Jennifer EcholsThe Book of Luke by Jenny O'ConnellForget You by Jennifer EcholsSuch a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
MTV Publishing
8th out of 46 books — 188 voters
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsWintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonIf I Stay by Gayle FormanShiver by Maggie StiefvaterNorth of Beautiful by Justina Chen
Printz 2010
20th out of 62 books — 263 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Kristi
This book is powerful. It's been haunting me for days, yes haunting me. After I finished, I couldn't help but sit there in a daze. The first thing that popped into my head was "WOW." Granted my emotions were in complete chaos. This isn't a novel for the faint hearted. This novel is moving, it's upsetting, it's heartbreaking, it's real.

Had I read this before I met Stephanie at ALA, I would have most likely hugged her and cried. She has an amazing talent. AMAZING. Even though I haven't experienced
...more
Alexa
4.5 stars

Man, it's just effed up. I cried like twice.
I've had a copy of this book for almost a year now, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. I've never done drugs and I don't drink; however, I'm surprised how I felt like I could relate to some of these characters in a way. And I think that there is something that everyone can relate to in these characters. Stephanie Kuehnert did such a great job on them and their stories.
Ballads of Suburbia is filled with friendships, anger, sadness
...more
Aly (Fantasy4eva)
Kara has returned to Oak Park to confront those she walked away from after overdosing. She wanted a new fresh start, but in order for that to happen, maybe she needs to face those that were a part of her life, one last time.

To be honest, as I read along, I thought to myself, that I really don't think I have ever come across more fucked up characters. I'm being honest here. I mean, they were so reckless and self - destructive that I found it emotionally draining and too painful to just witness.
...more
Melissa Marr
I've read & LOVED both of Kuehnert's books. No sugarcoating. No BS. She writes beautiful terrible truths.
Kate
Jan 19, 2012 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All young adults, and those adults who are still young at heart
It's truly amazing that any of us survive our teen years.

I really liked Stephanie's first book:I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, so when she came out with this one, I knew I was going to have to read it.

I'm really glad I did because she deals with a lot of young adult issues that don't really get talked about, until it's too late: drugs, addiction, overdoses, death, suicide, cutting, pregnancy, abusive/controlling relationships,rumors and backstabbing. These are the dark tales/ballads of what a lot
...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

Ms. Kuehnert has written another powerful and hard-hitting novel to follow up her stunning debut, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE.

Kara is friendless when her BFF Stacey has to move to another less expensive suburb of Chicago. So when new girl Maya enters Chemistry class and sits down beside her, she's excited to see a kindred soul. Soon the two take to hanging out after school in Scoville Park. Maya is everything Kara isn't, first and foremost outgoing. Maya ju
...more
Isamlq
Ballads of Suburbia has me feeling exactly as I did after How To Kill A Rock Star, as in geez.. do I hate it or I love it? I was sucked in that’s for sure. Kara’s story is depressing and sad; the all of those others around her were equally so. One would think that stories such as the ones found here have been done to death already. Starting with the ordinary day to day of family drama, moving on teenage angst of being friendless and placeless, then the getting out of one’s shell, to finding one’ ...more
BOOK BUTTERFLY
Ballads of Suburbia is a novel not for the faint of heart. It’s upsetting, haunting but also incredibly beautiful. Before I started this novel, I admit I was a little leery of it. I was afraid I’d begin reading and feel judgmental toward the characters and turned off by the drug use. While this was not an easy novel to dive into and at times really choked up, I never felt like I didn’t want to continue reading. The end, while sad, was also uplifting and inspirational. Any writer who can take a b ...more
Beth
I STOPPED READING "BALLADS OF SUBURBIA" ON PAGE 163. THIS REVIEW IS OF THE FIRST 163 PAGES. I DON'T MEAN TO OFFEND ANYONE WITH THIS REVIEW.

Okay, this is a tough one.

Because, you see, the thing is, Ballads of Suburbia is a great book for a certain person.

I'm just not that person.

It sounds like a nice way of breaking up with someone, but it's true: Ballads of Suburbia really is an amazing, searing book for those of you out there. It's one of those odd books that I couldn't get away from the acknow
...more
Laura (Boundless Bindings)
I just finished this book about twenty minutes ago and absolutely needed to write a review before I went to bed! After I finished this one, I just sat there staring off into space and just digesting what went on through the novel. It was truly wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time, I felt for everyone. Stephanie Kuehnert has such a distinct writing style that makes each of her characters, no matter how minuscule their parts may seem, have such a personality.

I recommend this book to anyone
...more
Sharon
OK, I know what you're thinking...a book about a girl who came of age in '90s Chicago suburbia and went to school to become a screenwriter. Do I just love this book because I can relate?

Actually, I expected to hate this book. I'm very protective of my childhood/teen memories, and it also just seemed all too edgy, romanticized, and unrealistic in all the descriptions I read of parties, drugs, and punk rock. Little did I expect to become so absorbed that I'd read it almost all in a couple of sitti
...more
Sonia Reppe
Aug 20, 2009 Sonia Reppe rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who did drugs in Scoville Park
I wanted to read this because it's about teenagers in the early 90's in Oak Park, IL, my hometown, where I went to high school in the early 90's so...I thought I would enjoy the references to Oak Park, which I did...and I have to say that was the best thing about the book for me.

Kuehnert's protagonist, Kara, is rebellious, delinquent and does drugs: basically she's messed up. She cuts herself— which Kuehnert admits to doing in her school days— and she hangs out in Scoville park, getting high. I
...more
Dylan
Feb 11, 2012 Dylan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Dylan by: Melissa
Wow. This book is one of the best and darkest realistic YA books I've ever read. Real, raw, and beautiful.
Natalie
I was going to wait to write this review until tomorrow when I woke up, but I rolled around in bed for half-an-hour, unable to sleep, still thinking about it. I don’t know how to describe Ballads of Suburbia to those of you who haven’t read it yet, but I’ll do my best.

Ballads is a beautiful, heartbreaking novel told through creative, lyrical prose. The characters are so intense, so realistic, that they almost jump off the pages. The events that unfold throughout the book are challenging and hear
...more
YA Reads Book Reviews
The blurb featured above doesn’t even come close to doing Ballads of Suburbia justice. This is not your regular dose of girl-meets-bad boy-but-finds-her-way-back-to-the-right-side-of-the-tracks kind of YA fiction. There is nothing censored, dusted over, or left out of this novel. I’m not even really sure you could classify this one as YA. Having said that, I think its something all angsty teens should read, and not because it has a ‘drugs are bad’ message, although it does, in a round about kind ...more
Malissa
I'm going to pilfer my own review of this book off of Amazon (since they think they own it now) because I wrote it just after finishing this book and, well, I already wrote it.

I said:

"I debated whether to give this book a 4 or 5 as Amazon doesn't allow in-betweens, but in the end I decided that a book that absorbs you as much as this one and leaves you as spent (but in a good way) deserves a 5.

I read Kuehnert's first book "I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone" immediately before this one and, unlike so
...more
Audrey (holes In My brain)
Ballads of Suburbia is about Kara, who returns to Oak Park after a heroin overdose four years prior. She tells the story, or 'ballad' of her high school years (up to junior year) where she was brought into the the life of drugs, booze, and music while her family fell apart and her old life slipped away. She and her brother, Liam, find themselves hanging out at Scoville Park making new friends and trying new things. Kara writes about her experiences with the bad boy she fell in love with, a boy w ...more
Annie (Under the Covers Book Blog)


Back when I was reading only YA books, I came upon this book while I was browsing the shelves at Indigo in Downtown Toronto between some of my classes. There was something about this book that caught my attention. Maybe it was the cover, maybe it was the title or the back blurb, but I knew I just had to read this book. I read and loved it then. And now, in the wake of the new boom of New Adult books, I remembered this special gem that caught my eye a long time ago. So I went back to revisit it
...more
booknerdkim
Though this book was totally not my scene when I was in high school, Kuehnert definitely captured the ethos of the mid-90s, the years when I came of age myself. She captured the cynicism that has become so mainstream now, but that was just beginning back in the day. I'm no sociologist, but as I read this book, I remembered how we all started to realize the veneer of suburban perfection was cracking to reveal a startling fact: the American Dream was NOT all it was cracked up to be.

People had spe
...more
Sab H.  (YA Bliss)
This is hardcore. It tried to suck life out of me. Read it if you dare. This is the dark reality every teenage kid fears or faces. We all know drugs, but we see it as the enemy. It's hard to see it from the eyes of an insider. I'm glad this book is out there for teens to read, but be warned its not pretty or pink. Specially if you have had experiences with this.

With that said... dude! this woman is a genius! OMG! What an amazing book. The 'ballad' concept is mind-blowing. What a great theory. I
...more
Good Golly Miss Holly
Generally, there are two main stereotypes that seem to cause havoc in any teen drama. The rockers who delve into drugs or the cheer squad who thrive on cruelty, well Ballads of Suburbia realistically looks into the lives of the former with Kara as our tour guide.

I can safely say, I've never read a book like this before but I guess it would fit in the same vein as Go Ask Alice or an Ellen Hopkins novel for all the eye-opening drug and alcohol abuse among other things and I'm sure anyone with divo
...more
Leslie (That Chick That Reads)
So usually I get new books according to what other bloggers read and liked. Stephanie’s book Ballads of Suburbia was everywhere in the bloggerverse so I decided to take a look at it. Well this book is mainly told in Kara’s point of view. Okie before I even get started with that, let me talk about how the book is organized (which I thought was extremely bad ass). Okie so this book is organized like a song, each different era was labeled as a Verse or Chorus, which I’m guessing is to give the illu ...more
Greta is Erikasbuddy
This book brought back so many fabulous memories of the 90s.

Ballads of Suburbia is centered around a teenage girl named Kara. Her family is going to pot (didn't everyone start to get divorces back then?), her bestie is moving away, her brother is well... a little brother (for now), and she is just discovering music.

Kara then discovers Skoville through a new friend she met at school. At Scoville (a park that the teens have taken over) she meets a whole cast of characters. One of them is Adrain wh
...more
Steph Su
BALLADS OF SUBURBIA left me reeling, thinking hard for hours afterwards. I share zero experience with Kara, and yet Stephanie Kuehnert masterfully pulls us into this dangerous, deceptive, yet enticing world of drugs. Only a talented writer can pull you into a world you know nothing about and make you feel as if you simultaneously understand and yet can never understand that world.

I know that I won’t be able to find the words significant to describe this novel, because what it covers is beyond my
...more
Sofia
This book is sad, gut wrenching and utterly devastating. How the hell am i going to get rid of this apathy I'm feeling right now?
Before I started reading it I read the reviews, so I can't say I wasn't warned. I just thought that since I was prepared it wouldn't affect me.

Stephanie Kuehnert has a gift. A gift of creating characters, plots and places in a very realistic way. I was drawn in from the very beginning and was completely convinced that what I was reading was real and not fiction.

Molly
I tried really hard but I ended up 'eh' about this book. It sounds like it is right up my alley with angst-ridden dribble but I guess it wasn't
There were quite literally, WAY too many characters to keep them all straight and made it really hard to feel like there was any real connection between any of them. It make it difficult to get into the characters at all.
Brenna
I only got through the first few pages and then just skimmed the rest to see if I'd be interested in continuing. Turns out this is the type of novel I would have been more interested in junior high rather than as an adult. I guess I was expecting something more detailed or relatable and instead it just seemed to be lacking.
Alix Wade
I read this book by chance after my mum got it out of the local library for me and it's definitely became my favourite book of all time!
I love the way that Kuehnert writes, all of her characters are so relatable to anyone who has lived through their teenage years, whether they were this extreme or not.
Everytime I read I genuinely feel injustice for Kara and anger at her situation, I became so attached that I wanted to change the way things were going for her and make everything better!
I would
...more
Susan Bazzett-griffith
Though this book is about teenagers, I can't in good consciousness call it YA lit. Kuehnert's writing is too raw, realistic and gritty for that label. I read her first book, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, many years ago and remembered loving it for a similar reason, but at that point I was fewer years away from being a teenager myself. Kuehnert has a true gift for bringing the tumultuous feel and pain from those of us whose teenage years were speckled with darker periods come rushing back to you w ...more
Kayla
I have mixed feelings about Ballads of Suburbia. Though the story is fairly interesting and the book is well written, I just didn’t find myself connecting to the characters and immersing myself in the story like I wanted.

Since this book is of moderate length (~340 pages), I expected more than what I got. At times, the story seemed to drag and felt long-winded. While the “ballads” the characters wrote did break up the monotony, it didn’t do much to keep me focused. Concerning the characters, they
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • How It Ends
  • Struts & Frets
  • Tempo Change
  • John Belushi Is Dead
  • The Sky Always Hears Me: And the Hills Don't Mind
  • Songs for a Teenage Nomad
  • Split
  • Losing Faith
  • Indigo Blues
  • A Little Wanting Song
  • The Tension of Opposites
  • Freefall
  • So Punk Rock: And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother
  • All I Ever Wanted
  • Don't Breathe a Word
  • Brother/Sister
  • Invincible Summer
  • Raw Blue
999096
STEPHANIE KUEHNERT got her start writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades in eighth grade. In high school, she discovered punk rock and produced several D.I.Y. feminist 'zines. After short stints in Ohio and Wisconsin, Stephanie ultimately returned home and received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago. She currently resides in Forest Park, IL.
More about Stephanie Kuehnert...
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone Very Superstitious: Myths, Legends and Tales of Superstition Des Plaines River Anthology

Share This Book

“I automatically assume people won't like me, so I don't talk to them unless they approach me first. I can't become a part of a crowd because I can't get past that feeling that I don't belong.” 293 likes
“It's the ballads I like best, and I'm not talking about the clichéd ones where a diva hits her highest note or a rock band tones it down a couple of notches for the ladies. I mean a true ballad. Dictionary definition: a song that tells a story in short stanzas and simple words, with repetition, refrain, etc. My definition: the punk rocker or the country crooner telling the story of his life in three minutes, reminding us of the numerous ways to screw up.” 19 likes
More quotes…