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The Vinyl Underground

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Dig it.

During the tumultuous year of 1968, four teens are drawn together: Ronnie Bingham, who is grieving his brother’s death in Vietnam; Milo, Ronnie’s bookish best friend; “Ramrod,” a star athlete who is secretly avoiding the draft; and Hana, the new girl, a half-Japanese badass rock-n-roller whose presence doesn’t sit well with their segregated high school.

The four ou
Paperback, 328 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Flux
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Sarah Valerie Perks of Being a Wallflower! In the book, we get a whole playlist (mixtape) made by the main character, Charlie. I highly recommend reading the novel,…morePerks of Being a Wallflower! In the book, we get a whole playlist (mixtape) made by the main character, Charlie. I highly recommend reading the novel, it's great, and so are the songs!(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  205 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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MissBecka Gee
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to MissBecka by: Queen Cronut
The era, the music, the story and the characters were all fantastic pieces I enjoyed getting lost in.
"It ain't easy being the only rose in an asshole parade."
It felt like too many things were left unsaid/did when the book ended.
I'm not sure if an epilogue would have destroyed the mystic or settled my questions?
Much thanks goes to NetGalley & North Star Editions for my DRC.
Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)
Rated 3.5 really.

Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA.

Pros: Vivid portrait of an era. Teen protagonists who feel real. Focus on friendship and coming of age (though there's some romance involved). Music fuels the story.
Cons: Messy parent-child dynamics and conveniently clueless adults. Some inconsiderate choices.
WARNING! Verbal and physical abuse (racially charged, for the most part). Unchallenged drug use. Underage drinking.
Will appeal to: Those who appreciate a story wa
***ARC provided by Netgalley and North Star Editions in exchange for an honest review***


I have to first admit that I completely forgot this book was approuved to read and so it took me a while. And then I wasn't in the right mindset and it took me multiple tries to read it. I'm not that familiar with the Vietnam war and I'm not a historical fiction buff either but I'm glad i gave this a go.

It's 1968. Ronnie's brother bruce died during the Vietnam war and he fears that when he turns 18, he's g
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Thanks to Netgalley and Flux for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Who knew such an unassuming cover could hide such a cracker of a book? Rufus makes writing look like a Sunday stroll. Seriously, if I could sum up this book in three words it’d be ‘bloody good writing.’ I don’t just want to buy this book, I want to give it to everyone I know and then commission a press release to talk about how good it is. Unfortunately, I only know about four people and none of them like YA, which is a cry
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ya girl has issues with requesting arcs and TOTALLY forgetting the premise of them by the time approval sets in cause I remember this was centered around music but not Vietnam 😂😂 I started to read this and was instantly turned off, DESPITE REQUESTING, and almost put it down because I’m not one for historical fiction centered around a war. Instead, I pushed on and I am so glad that I did because this book was absolutely phenomenal!

Like I said, I’m not one for historical fiction centered around a
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I fell in love with Rob Rufus’ writing when he published his teen memoir, Die Young with Me, so to say I was excited for The Vinyl Underground is an understatement. I had the opportunity to meet Rob when his band, The Bad Signs, toured to SF a few years ago and he introduced me to the story that would become The Vinyl Underground.

Set against a background of resistance and punk rock music, The Vinyl Underground is a story set during a historic time period that wasn’t well taught in my high school
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I know Rob Rufus was bummed that the official release of this book was out shined by the COVID shutdown and honestly, I am too, because although it is set in 1968, there are many issues highlighted that have continued to stir in cultural and political society since.
For me, it has a lot of relatable content for a girl who was a senior in high school when 9/11 happened. I vividly remember the military officers camping out in the cafeteria of a high school segregated by the "Have" and "Have Nots",
Queen Cronut
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, netgalley, arcs
Set in 1960-era America, The Vinyl Underground follows four outcast teens and the companionship they share through their record club called The Vinyl Underground.

Ronnie's older brother, Bruce has been killed in the Vietnam War, leaving Ronnie to cope with his loss and with high school graduation approaching, his father is determined to send his other son to fight overseas. Meanwhile, Hana, a Japanese girl with radically progressive ideas, moves next door to Ronnie and is often subject to racial
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I originally picked this up because I love music from this time period. What I found was a book that moved me, rocked me and made me really think!

With the Vietnam War as the background, this story centers around 4 high school kids: Ronnie, who is grieving his brother's death in the war; Milo, his film buff of a best friend; Lewis or "Ramrod", who was Ronnie's brother's best friend; and Hana, a half-Japanese new girl, who's a bad ass and new in their small-minded little town. These four come tog
Lindsey (Bring My Books)
I was immediately drawn to this book because of what I imagined would be a killer look at music and records in the 1960s, but I was sucked in even further when I saw that this was a book whose main plot centers around the Vietnam War. I have read a lot of historical fiction, but tend to pick up books about WWI or WWII, and don't really delve into other eras (to my own disappointment in myself).

I'm glad I picked this up, and I'm so glad I read it. The way Rob Rufus writes about music and what it
Thank you Netgally and the publisher for giving me a digital Arc to read and review.

The Vinyl Underground is set in 1968, during the peak of the Vietnam war. Ronnie's brother Bruce died during the war and he really doesn't want to sign up for the draft.
This book is the first book I've ever read that has a anti-Vietnam stance. That really interested me as I personally think that the whole draft was wrong and the Vietnam war should have been over way sooner.

The writing style of this book really go
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you NetGalley and North Star Editions for this digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Dig it.

During the tumultuous year of 1968, four teens are drawn together: Ronnie Bingham, who is grieving his brother’s death in Vietnam; Milo, Ronnie’s bookish best friend; “Ramrod,” a star athlete who is secretly avoiding the draft; and Hana, the new girl, a half-Japanese badass rock-n-roller whose presence doesn’t sit well with their segregated high school.

The four outcasts find sanct
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautiful description of growing up in the late 60's when everyone was reeling from the devastating affects of the Vietnam war as well as the assassination of MLK Jr. When the grass roots movements were formed and the people wanted to try to make a change in the world.
This book follows 4 boys who each have their own demons to wrestle, but connect through their love of music. The vinyl underground drew me in from the first page and I couldn't put it down.
The author (rufus) has a wa
I enjoyed this book and its themes! I also enjoyed getting to experience a story in a time period that I'm less familiar with. While I'm glad the main characters came out on top, I'm not a fan of their methods. I'm with Ronnie when he was feeling conflicted at the end—what they did was honestly pretty cruel (my squeamish self was pretty disturbed by it), but I also understand that feeling of powerlessness, when you want so badly for something big to change but know that writing letters to your c ...more
John Sapida
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a music and history enthusiast, I really enjoyed this title. I listened to the whole audiobook in one day. I did not feel that there was a lull in the story at all and I felt that the writing was intuitive and descriptive for YA. I should say that my interest in this title was initially due to my personal interest in learning more about the time period especially about the social resistance of the time period. I felt that the social and political themes in this book are still relevant today - ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A righteous book that combines the art of music with the cruelty, violence, and pain of the Vietnam war, and the discrimination in the 60’s. With the use of flamboyant language and and a slew of 60’s slang; I knew exactly when and where I was.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really, really good. I loved the backdrop of the Vietnam War mixed with the ideas of what it means to be courageous. A wonderful story, a dynamic protagonist and a story that draws you along beautifully to its hopeful conclusion.
Kristen Thorp
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So fucking good.
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
In the turbulent year of 1968, four teens band together amidst the chaos: Ronnie, who recently lost his brother to Vietnam, his best friend Milo, who dreams of making films, Lewis/"Ramrod", a high school athlete who's secretly draft-dodging, and Hana, the new half-Japanese girl who knows how to rock, but faces discrimination at their segregated school.

Together, they create "The Vinyl Underground", a weekly get-together where they enjoy the music of the times, their own small form of protest agai
May 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic YA set during turbulent 1968, but timely for many of the cultural issues we still struggle with today. Racial justice and questions about why we can’t all get along, and how individual choice battles the greater good feature heavily in this surprising book. I thought I would be getting a primer on Vietnam protest from young baby boomers, but instead found a much more complex book that tackled many more issues with an adept hand, all the while serving up rebellious music references an ...more
Sandro E. Riquelme
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it

It's the first time i've read something like this; a trio group of best friends watching how the U.S is completely changed. War, political propaganda sets in cold war avoiding mentioning the second-generation Japanese American citizens incarcerations in ww2 doing to expand the racial discrimination.

Using the same music like a weapon against this themes in the western towns (once again in the U.S history).
However this isn't last trouble to Ronnie, Milo and Hana.

i li
Leslie Basney
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreakingly beautiful.
Mona  AlvaradoFrazier
The year is 1968, and the US military is in Vietnam. Ronnie and his older brother, Bruce, had plans to go west and become famous radio DJs, but their plans are derailed when Bruce ships out to war and is killed. Now, grieving and lost, Ronnie is terrified of being drafted, although his father expects Ronnie to join upon his rapidly approaching 18th birthday.

The Vinyl Underground began as a record club to listen to music with Ronnie's friends, Milo, Ramrod (his brother's best friend who intentio
Khansa Jan Dijoo
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this book because of a Netgalley request for an honest review.

"Be whatever you have to be to get to the edge of the cliff. It doesn't matter how you get there, what matters is you jump." The Vinyl Underground by Rob Rufus is a story about brave choices and doing the right thing. It is a story about four friends who form a music club and face the worries of the world such as school, college applications, and the drafting for Vietnam War with their love for rock n' roll. I loved The Vi
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book took me by surprise in the best way. I was already looking forward to a book about music in the late 60s, but this little gem of a novel was much more of a commentary on the social and political strife brought on by the Vietnam War and all the tensions that came along with it. This book tackles music, youth, abuse, but also just the absolute shitstorm of political and social turmoil that was the United States in the 60s. This is already an era of history that fascinates and horrifies m ...more
Azzurra Nox
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can’t even begin to explain how much I LOVED this book to pieces! The protagonist, Ronnie is still reeling from the death of his older, charismatic brother Bruce, who passed away while fighting in Vietnam. Not only is he dealing with that tremendous loss, he’s also having to deal with the very real possibility that he too will be drafted for the same war. Truth is, Ronnie doesn’t believe in this war and wants nothing more than to be able to finish senior year and figure himself out. Because ev ...more
Raathi Chota
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For twenty-four chapters, it’s written at a good pace with rising tension, conflict and resolution visible. Rufus does a good job constructing a novel with such controversial themes that’s still applicable in today’s society. Taking place in the USA (1968) yet revolving around the Vietnam war and how our protagonist, Ronnie, deals with the death of his older brother, Bruce after being drafted and killed in the war. I loved how Rufus covered all the grief and problems that the characters go throu ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-arcs
I think this might be one of my favorite books I've read this year!

This book is one of those that, when you read it, you can truly feel the music. It's the story of a small revolution, and, considering the state of the United States right now, it's timely despite the over 50 year gap.

Ronnie's life is just go to school, wrestle, work with his best friend Milo at the theatre, come home, get high, and listen to his dead brother Bruce's albums. Bruce was shipped off to Vietnam, throwing a wrench in
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this from NetGalley, thank you so much. I loved this book so much!

I think the biggest thing I loved about this book is how authentic it felt. The dialogue between these characters never felt forced and I loved that while they were all different they showed a truly great friendship. They argued and disagreed, but these four teens were not forced together, they were simply friends dealing with terrifying and uncertain circumstances. Plus, the real life events a
Kate Larkindale
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this piece of historical fiction. Set in 1968, Ronnie's brother, Bruce, has recently been killed in Vietnam. Now he's about to graduate and the draft hangs over him. Despite having already lost one son to the war, Ronnie's father is determined to see his second son honor the country with his service too.

When Ronnie meets Hana, the new girl who moves in across the street, his thinking begins to change. She's half-Japanese and faces daily slurs about her race at the still-segregat
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