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I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,323 ratings  ·  202 reviews
A raw, edgy, emotional novel about growing up punk and living to tell.

The Clash. Social Distortion. Dead Kennedys. Patti Smith. The Ramones. Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find t
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by MTV Books
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  1,323 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Jul 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2008
Not sure whether to give this the highest or lowest rating because it should get props for being one of the worst things I've ever read, like a literary mix of the movies "Showgirls," "Crossroads" (Britney Spears, not Ralph Macchio), and "Prey for Rock n' Roll" (Gina Gershon in a rock band). The story is about a teenage girl in Nowhereseville, USA, and her dreams of making it big in her pop-punk trio. It reads as a checklist of plot points from a made-for-tv movie on the Lifetime network, featur ...more
Allie Marini
Sep 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Kathleen
Mar 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Oh my god. It is so bad. This is one of the worst books I've ever read. It's probably second only to this book I read in ninth grade about the alleged Pope Joan. That one I stopped reading when a character set a table with forks, which hadn't been invented when the book took place. This one I stuck with, just to talk about HOW BAD it is. It reads like a fifteen year old's fan fiction. I kept expecting the main character to have sex with Draco Malfoy, which would have at least been a little bit m ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
At the heart of any novel about music and musicians is the question, Can music save your mortal soul? Stephanie Kuehnert’s wonderfully gritty novel "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" looks at that question from the perspective of Emily, an angry young female punk guitarist, and answers it with a resounding Yes! Or, is it a maybe?

Emily follows her heart and her music, hoping it will lead her to the mother who abandoned her for punk music when Emily was four months old. But Emily’s journey leads her to
Corinne Horne
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 24 hours. Not because it was easy, or so I could get it over with, but because it was one of the best books I've read to-date. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the book. I associated with Emily, the way she loved music and the person she was.

The book itself is so well-written that after digesting the whole thing, I felt my jaw go slack in awe of the beauty of it. Stephanie's talent, love of music, and experience exude from this book with such ease that you'd think it wa
Nov 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Altars. Saviors. Rock'n'roll. I braved my fear of spiders, dust plumes as thick as L.A. smog, and the stench of dog piss that the last owner of the house had let permeate the basement to tirelessly search my father's record collection for my next holy grail.

I liked this one. It was well written. Stephanie Kuehnert has a way with words, and she can spin a good story. No doubt about it. For those that love music--particularly punk--and angst will find much to delight them in I Wanna Be Your Joey R
Nov 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
I found this book in the Young Adult section, but I think I'll tell the librarian it should go in the Fantasy section -- as in, it is the author's own fantasy about the ideal punk upbringing. PLEASE NOTE: In punk culture, "ideal" involves lots of drug use, boring sex, abandonment issues, a plethora of faded band shirts, and an apparent total lack of self-consciousness or awkwardness in one's adolescence.

The characters of this book are an odd bunch, with oddly-colored hair (ex: plum and lavender
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
With a star review from one of my all-time faves, Mr. Irvine Welsh himself, I expected waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more from this one. My two biggest complaints: I would've liked more direct references to actual punk rock (instead of, say, Nirvana), and I wish home-girl would've figured out when enough was enough and just ended the damn book. It was fine, but I'm certainly not recommending it to any o' MY teen readers...
Nov 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
YIKES. What a complete and utter disaster. If I were still my 14 year old punk-wannabe self, I probably would've half-dug this - but I still would've been left wanting something more.

So many problems it's difficult to know when to start, however:

- There was a semblance of a discernible plot - Emily and her band rising to fame - but good god did it not require 340 pages. About 250 pages were random, unnecessary and simply confusing. I repeat. A good 75% of it was completely unnecessary.
- Emily
Greta is Erikasbuddy
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I know that I'm probably getting old with the way I do reviews on here.. but I just can't help it. This book deserves a soundtrack too :)

(Moms that are reading this --- don't play that with your little ones in the room lolz.)

Good grief my lovely girlies!! I can't tell you how long I have searched for this book. I mean... it's been over a decade!!

A couple years back I was talking to my best bud, and I told her that I wanted to write a book. I told her t
David Agranoff
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this book in a really interesting way. At my school a couple of my students have a volunteer job at the San Diego book project. Down in this sketchy basement there is pallets and dumpsters filled with used books that are destined to for libraries in smaller communities and various non-profits. The people who run the book project are clear they want people to take books and enjoy them if they find ones they like. I have found several cool retro science fiction books, including Ace doubles ...more
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: just-finished
I was interested in reading this novel as the author lives nearby and is getting some good local publicity so when I found it at the library I grabbed it. I'm not sure if this is considered an adult novel or a young adult novel (what in the world is a young adult novel anyway...a book you read between the ages of 18-22??...makes no sense) all I know is that I would have been into it when I was a 13-16 year-old kid starved for signs of cool life outside my small boring city. But now, since I'm OL ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
I think I would have LOVED this book in High School, but something happened to me when I either turned 40 or had a baby (because they happened at the same time, so I dont know which one is the cause.)

When Emily began having sexual conquests at such a young age, I was about to stop reading the book, but then she realized how it made her look and she stopped. Then when she went off in search of her mother and became a drug user, I was ready to stop again, but once again she realized how stupid she
Jul 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
terrible. rang completely untrue and cliche. i wanted to like it - i grew up in a shitty little wisconsin town close to the illinois border and went to punk shows in rural vfw halls and crap run-down buildings, just like the main character, but i really didn't see anything authentic, realistic or even very likable about this book. really bad writing. so thinly-veiled (i love the diatribe about why the main character is living in the burbs, all defensive and "but the train is so close!" - and the ...more
Jo Besser
Jun 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
I would give this a half star if Goodreads gave me that option. I read this because I thought I could relate, to it because I was this girl. I've been a music whore who's loved Punk Rock since I was 15. There was one paragraph out of the entire book that I could relate to.

This fell into every god damn YA trope, the parents that don't get it, the love triangle, oh and the Mary Sue main character. I had to go to Urban Dictionary for the definition of a "Punk Sue" Dear Stephanie Kuehnert, you don't
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have been wanting to read this novel for what seems like forever. Thanks goodness for Alexa. I was suffering a severe case of hype-fear as I began reading but then realised 1) IWBYJR wasn't at all like I expected and 2) I loved Emily.

Emily Black is "dark and twisty" (to quote a show I have long given up on). I was expecting something fast paced, brutally honest and kinda warped (all which I got) but I didn't expect a sweeping family saga. I am not someone who lives through a character, I usual
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
I iz disappoint.

I loved loved loved the angsty “ballads” she had for each of her characters in Ballads of Suburbia, where each person had a depressing/angst-y/dramatic story to share. The angst in this one though just came from one person, so it’s the same thing that had me feeling overloaded. So, if in BALLADS, the angsty/depressing stories were spread out (thus manageable for me,) this one really felt over the top.

The title "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" had me expecting Emily Black to be mos
Play it harder. Play it faster. Louder. Harder. Faster. So loudhardfast that I forget your name. After all, did I even know it in the first place?

I don't understand why this book has such a low average rating.

It's great: it doesn't have the same format of many YA books; how many things can happen in a year, a summer, a week even. It was about a journey, it felt so real like you lived it alongside the characters.
Emily was such a thunderstorm of a character . Sometimes you don't understand the
Sonia Reppe
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age
Four stars because I couldn't put this book down, but not five because the sections in Louisa's point of view were soapy and melodramatic. The Louisa sections kept my interest, but her characterization wasn't as in-depth as Emily, the protagonist whom the book follows. This character, Emily, drives the story. Emily is passionate about music, and talented. She becomes something of a rock star. This is believable because her music is written about in a believable way. The author either has a knowl ...more
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of punk rock, Sleater-Kinney, Michelle Tea, Francesa Lia Block
Recommended to Chessa by: I can't honestly remember
Shelves: ya, plain-ol-fiction
Emily Black lives in small-town Wisconsin, brought up by her music-loving father and the legends of her rebellious mother Louisa who left when she was an infant to follow the punk music scene. This book is about Emily's own journey on the path of music, the boys that distract her from it, and her search for answers about her legendary - and absent - mother. Also told from the perspective of Louisa, this book weaves an amazing and emotional narrative of punk rock and the emotions we run from. Hig ...more
Brandon Will
Feb 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ya-lit
A very flawed mother and a young punk girl long for each other, but are kept apart by tragedy and tragic stubornness. Young Emily Black finds comfort and communion in music, inhaling genres and artists all throughout her childhood, sharing that love with her single dad. She was always told that her mother left her bacuase she had to follow the music scene. As Emily comes of age she forms a band that manages to take off, and puts her music out there, hoping her mother will follow the music back t ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Dear God this book was horrifying. Really terrible writing, atrocious characters I didn't give a damn about (and the deleted bits from her website made me cringe even more), and little interesting development.

This novel is one enormous cliche, but the author doesn't own up to it. I wrote a review on my (only read by my friend's) blog, and she found it. And commented on it.

And 'her Seattle' as she put it made me laugh. so. hard. As someone who has lived there her entire life, I think I would know
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I did not think this book stood a chance with me since it is based on a mother leaving a daughter and husband behind. I usuallly get too mad that someone could do that to want to read anything about it but this book was very entertaining and I loved the story it tells. I read it in a matter of hours and fell in love with Emily Black.
Dec 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
This novel is the first from my good friend from high school, Stephanie Kuehnert, and will be published by MTV books spring/summer 2008. There are many references from my own HS experience, and I'm utterly psyched to read it!

Pre-book it at Amazon. com
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
I knew I had to read this after reading some of Kuehnerts' Rookie articles. I love her articles more, but I really liked this book. I especially liked how the female relationships were written. The part set during Halloween was my favourite.
Sep 02, 2010 added it
Debut. Abandonment. Punk. Healing. Power.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
2.5 - There are parts of this story that I absolutely LOVED. I love reading about teenage girls and young women in the punk/grunge/riot grrrl music scene of the 90s. Unfortunately there were also so many aspects of the book that fell short.

I connected with Emily, the main character, right away. The way she described rock music perfectly encapsulates my feelings.
”No, it’s not noisy enough,” I replied. I wanted something that you could feel in your throat when you played it loud, something th
I have to admit that I totally picked this up from a Valentines day free book table because of the cover image and the Sleater-Kinney Song title as the books title. As I read the back blurb I remembered hearing about this years ago as the author was was semi local being from a nearby suburb of Chicago who wrote for some zines an old roommate of mine used to read. as this was a debut book which i tend to love exploring I thought I would give it a shot.

I'm so glad that I did. This is a story about
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I only finished this because I was able to read the whole thing in a few hours and it wasn't too horrible. But I didn't much care for the characters, and some of the writing just made me cringe (this book could easily be 50 pages shorter if all the references to hair and eye color were removed. Also, one character has "seafoam" eyes on one page and "sapphire" eyes three pages later, which is...not possible). I wanted to like it much more than I did. But I didn't.

I'm no expert, but I think there
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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.

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