I thought I had this book pegged by the cover, which is so punk rock and artsy. I made some snap judgments about the book, thinking it would be a littI thought I had this book pegged by the cover, which is so punk rock and artsy. I made some snap judgments about the book, thinking it would be a little dark and gritty for my taste. And while there is a fair amount of art and punk in the book, it is at its core a sweet story about a relationship and finding self worth. As I may have mentioned before though, I am a sucker for YA books about music so I jumped at the chance to check out Zero. Throw in an artistic, self-deprecating new adult protagonist and I was so on board with this one.
Amanda “Zero” Walsh has just received some bad news that rocked her world. She didn’t qualify for a coveted art school scholarship and won’t be able to swing the money on her own. On top of that, things are beyond awkward with her best friend, and her dad’s drinking is spiraling out of control. Life takes an unexpected turn when she meets skate punk drummer Mike, and he helps give her a much-necessary boost of confidence.
Tom Leveen writes a realistic teenage girl character, one who is self-absorbed and a bit whiny, and dealing with lots of family drama. Amanda’s nickname Zero started out as a put-down junior high kids called her because she was the loner art chick. However, it stuck and she decided to own it, and even her own dad calls her Z rather than Amanda, or the dreaded Amy. Amanda has body image issues and low self-esteem and uses humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism. She is a gifted artist and idolizes Salvador Dali, but she lacks the confidence to take her art to the next level. She has one close friend, Jenn, but they have a mysterious falling out. In a big moment of bravery she approaches the gorgeous-eyed drummer of up and coming band Gothic Rainbow, and they begin a relationship.
Mike the drummer is very crush-worthy, sweet and mature, and his scenes with Amanda spark with electricity. He is not a stereotypical rock-musician type at all, and in case you’re wondering he doesn’t have a Mohawk, as the cover would suggest. Leveen captures the feeling of first love really well, with an awkwardness and obsessiveness that rings true. And even though the two care for each other a lot, they both have a driving passion for their art that demands their attention. Their relationship goes a long way towards helping Amanda’s confidence issues, and takes some interesting and unconventional turns. It is also a more mature relationship, both mentally and physically, than found in most other YA books.
Leveen’s writing has a lot of personality and includes some humorous asides to the reader. He captures the feeling of being at a rock show, with authentic band and song names. Also, Amanda’s passion for her art comes through clearly and she gets lost in her art and makes many artistic references. I liked the feminist leanings of the book too and that the relationship wasn’t the only thing in Amanda and Mike’s lives.
Zero would be a great book for people that enjoy books about new adults, people who don’t fit in, and fans of art, music and romance. ...more
Harmonic Feedback is a quick read, with strong, colorful characters, and it addresses some interesting issues such as social disorders, drug use and rHarmonic Feedback is a quick read, with strong, colorful characters, and it addresses some interesting issues such as social disorders, drug use and rehabilitation, and what it’s like to be an outsider who just wants to fit in. I found this book very readable and addictive and just what I was looking for.
The premise is that 16-year-old Drea moves around a lot with her mom, and they have recently settled in with Drea’s grandmother in Bellingham, Washington. Drea loves music and is a producer in the making, but has had a hard time striking up friendships. She has ADHD and a mild case of Asperger’s that make her say exactly what she thinks. She’s taking an assortment of prescription drugs to manage her symptoms as best she can. She has been labeled a freak and an outsider in her former schools, and written off by her peers. At her new school, though, she catches the eye of two other students who think she’s pretty cool. Naomi and Justin are also music obsessed and even want to form a band with Drea. They are the first real friends she’s ever had, and the first ones to treat her as normal. So now Drea wants to continue to fit in, and is scared to tell them about her issues, worried that they would interfere with this new blossoming friendship/potential romance.
Drea is such an interesting character that is easy to relate to. Who hasn’t felt like an outsider at some point? She has a checklist in her head of the right, socially acceptable way to behave, and tries her best to keep up even when it doesn’t make sense to her. Her behavior rang very true to me, and I found her such an endearing main character. I felt I could understand her very well and felt her struggles as she strived for acceptance. Her voice was very original and refreshing.
Drea’s friend Naomi has some troubles of her own, and is all over the place with her emotions. She’s up one minute and down the next. I loved that she connected so well with Drea and liked that Drea was real and honest with her. In a way she reminded me of Rayanne Graff of My So-Called Life, just someone looking for love and attention but making some bad decisions along the way.
Justin, like Drea and Naomi, is another person looking for a fresh start. He is so sweet with Drea, and a great guy for her. Nice to see a genuinely nice love interest! Drea’s mom and grandmother are also good characters, and it’s nice to see so many types of family relationships represented in the book.
Music is a thread that runs throughout the story, whether Drea and Justin are arguing about the bands they like, or deciding on a sound for their band, or playing instruments, and it complements the story very well.
I loved reading this book and found it such a fulfilling story, though sad at times. Tara Kelly’s writing made me feel like I was there with Drea, feeling uncomfortable, awkward and embarrassed right along with her at times. The writing, authentic characters, story, and pacing all made the book an original and engaging read. The author’s note mentions that this is not an issues book about AS & ADHD but is about one girl’s story and experience, and I think many will be able to relate to Drea. Tara Kelly is such a talented writer and I can’t wait to read more of her books....more