Paige plays bass in high school rock band Vox Pop, which means keeping a steady rhythm even in their most raucous rock and roll moments.
But in the tense build-up to the Rockfest competition, Paige finds she can’t control everything in her life, no matter how hard she practises and how loud she plays. There’s stuff happening in the band that she can’t put her finger on, a friend who can’t handle her own secret anymore and a mysterious guy who plays double bass like an angel. But there isn’t much time to sort things out – Rockfest looms and so does the end of the school year, when everything will change for good.
Lonesome When You Go is a novel about practising solo, performing like a rockstar and how contributing your best self to something can create a force much greater than the sum of its parts.
Paige’s band is a kind of grungy, indie serious group of rocksters, tangled up in all the intensity of high school politics – of musical rivalries, of sexual tensions, of obsessive cultural desires – while Paige, at 16, tries to make sense of her familial and social worlds. She’s the youngest in the band, the bass player – the figure of stability, of foundational rhythm and time keeping, the one who pulls the others back from the brink of chaos when guitars and drums begin to run out of control; she’s the youngest, but in a sense she’s the oldest; the stable one as she and her bandmates – Spike, Jay & Ed (her sister’s boyfriend) – aim for the national high school rock competition, having narrowly missed out last year; no pressure then.
One of the many things I like about the engaging novel is that Koirala does not make this the only, or in some sense even the main, narrative driver. Paige’s non-band circle of friends – Lily, Molly and the sardonic school editorial cartoonist Sam – are as significant in driving the plot as the seemingly dominating Rockquest. Mind you, indie rock is not Paige’s only musical arena – she has also recently joined the local youth orchestra, tucked away in the back right-hand corner of the double bass patch in the string section. At 16 she finds herself trying to work out how to deal with a friend’s eating disorder, as well as those obsessive lustful thoughts and desires for the ‘older boy’, how to stand up for your mates when they’re under attack or what to do when a friend’s boyfriend is obviously wrong for her (and your group). It is all done with sense of realism – it may not be what she intended, but I kept conjuring up images of Wellington’s western and central city residential areas – Thorndon, Karori and Kelburn seem to be the haunt, the catchment area for West High…. but maybe that’s the trick of the West.
In a sense, it is pretty standard fare for teenage school-based fiction, but it is done with verve, lightness of touch, wry humour and at times it looks to me like real insight to the cultural seriousness of musical competition and identity.
I haven’t read much YA fiction before, so I didn’t know what to expect from ‘Lonesome when you go’. I can summarise my reading experience as: ‘Is this what YA fiction is? I want more of it!’ I couldn’t wait to get back to the book every day. I had been on a diet of serious non-fiction and wonderfully depressing prose and I needed a break. This turned out to be exactly the breath of fresh air I needed. I absolutely loved the main character, Paige. It made me look back at my teenage self with more empathy and tenderness. There were many scenes that resonated with me: Paige’s resistance when faced with change (changing friendships, changing taste, changing parents), that heartbreaking realisation that balance is not constant, the awkward conversations with boys. There are many amusing moments when Paige’s perception of a situation is completely different from reality, and I could relate very much. Reading this I remembered that growing up is a very confusing time and I should give that teenager in me a cuddle for making it through somewhat sane. I already have a couple of teenagers in mind to pass it on to, but I think parents of teenagers would appreciate it just as much. I highly recommend it to anyone who is or was ever 15.
This YA novel features Paige, the bass player in a high school rock band, as she and her bandmates prepare for Rockfest, a Battle of the Bands-style competition for high school rock bands. The proverbial "musical and personal differences" threaten to derail the band and lives of Paige's friends alike, but in the end, Paige's determination to hold down the metaphorical as well as literal bottom end comes through.
Paige is the best thing in this book: likeable, determined, but far from flawless, she's a character worth identifying with. And I also really liked the balance between the joy and the tedium of building a working musical relationship with other people who never see things quite the same way as you do. Definitely a recommended read.
Lonesome When You Go is such a cool book. It took me back to my life when I was 16, with it's very descriptive passages. It made me laugh, and it made me reminisce. But Paige grabbed my heart and took me for a ride through her life at 16, and I became very invested in her feelings, her actions and her consequences, as well as those of her family and friends.
Definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone who is a teenager, or was a teenager, also to those interested in rock and roll, or perhaps those that were just there to to watch and enjoy being a fan...
A great read about a girl who's a bass guitar player in a high school rock band. Easy to read, strong focus on teen issues, a sympathetic heroine, and plenty of music and performance details that will appeal to readers who like anything to do with rock music.
One of the main reasons why I picked up this book was that it was set in New Zealand and I've told my self to read more books about my own country for a while so here I am. :) *Review contains spoilers* This book was a bit average though I liked the way I could relate to the main character about the things she did or thought about. This was a short book so the relationships between the characters weren't as fleshed out as they could have been. There was a nice dynamic between Paige and the band but then that all went up in flames during the climax of the book when Jay ans Spike fought about something and that changed the way the band ran. It was kind of sad to see but i suppose it was necessary to have a definitive tipping point in the boo where everything goes to hell before it gets better. In saying that I wasn't so sure about the ending. It was happy but it left me feeling like it could have been wrapped up a bit differently. The setting (Wellington I believe) was OK but i would have like to have read more about the city so I felt fully grounded in the story. There were mentions of places and of course I recognized them but a little but more atmospheric things about Paige's surroundings would have been a nice touch.