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Released: July 21, 2009
Genre: New Adult
Published by MTV Books
The back story of each character was so well-done and intricate that reading their ballads seem to display them in their most raw state and seeing their internal struggles with themselves was sometimes hard to read, but very successful in creating that emotional bond between the reader and the characters. ~ Under the Covers
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 for a reread and it’s just as good as I remembered.
BALLADS OF SUBURBIA is a teen novel that deals with a lot of bad things. You’ve got suicide, depression, drug abuse, overdose, unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, abuse, grief and the works. That being said, it pushes the maturity level so that it feels more like a New Adult book than a simple YA novel. Of course, when it came out, NA wasn’t a thing yet but I thought I’d bring this back on the radar and hopefully get readers interested in this book because it is a great one.
This book follows Kara who in her junior year of high school had a heroin overdose that nearly killed her. She left the school and moved to bigger and better things, but four years later, she returns to Scoville Park where her very dark past catches up with her. When she returns, she meets up with her old friends – and I use this term loosely – and revisits her old life. Drama unlike anything you’ve ever seen occurs and it’s both gripping and heartbreaking to watch. Not only do you find out what happened to her friends after the years she left, but you also get glimpses of what they are going thoroughly presently and it’s not always good.
What’s unique about this book is the way it’s written. Kuehnert is heavily influenced by music and you can see that throughout the pages. But perhaps the best – and the most heartbreaking – thing about this book are the Ballads that each character writes. They’re almost like short tell-alls that reveal the innermost thoughts and secrets of each character. God, they were so consuming and reading some of them simply crushed my heart. The back story of each character was so well-done and intricate that reading their ballads seem to display them in their most raw state and seeing their internal struggles with themselves was sometimes hard to read, but very successful in creating that emotional bond between the reader and the characters.
I loved this book so much and I’m hoping that this will convince readers to pick up this older book and give it to try. It’s emotional and angsty with a few twists along the way. And there’s a hero named Adrian whom I both loved and hated. Nevertheless, I couldn’t find myself putting this book down.
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