aka YA Literature

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So Punk Rock by Micol Ostow

Ari Abramson is a junior at Leo R. Gittleman Jewish Day School in New Jersey. Ari's parents' priority is for him to study incessantly for school and the SATs so that he can get into their alma mater, Brandeis. Ari's priority is to convince his best friend, Jonas Fein, to start a rock band with him. He needs Jonas in this endeavor because (a) he needs band members, and (b) Jonas is pretty popular, especially with the ladies. He has one of those outgoing personalities that can use a smile to get just about anything he wants. And he has the personality of someone used to using his smile to get just about anyone/thing he wants. Ari, unlike Jonas, is more the shy and retiring average-but-not-dorky guy. He likes the beautiful, popular, and, naturally, unattainable Sari Horowitz, and Ari believes that starting a band will get her to notice him. In addition to enlisting Jonas in his band, he also has to convince the very dorky and devout Yossi Gluck to join the band because he is the only person at Gittleman who owns a drum set. In convincing Yossi to join, Ari ends up agreeing to let Yossi's younger sister Reena also join as a (good!) singer. After a while, it turns out that the band actually comes together and has some success both in creating music people want to listen to and in establishing the popularity Ari hoped for. Of course, that popularity doesn't go quite the way Ari hoped, but he has a good time and learns some important things about himself (not in any after-school special way, though).

I don't remember what possessed me to pick up this book since it's not really my usual type of read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's very funny, and there are hilarious little black-and-white cartoon sketches that supplement the plot scattered throughout (done by David Ostow). I'm not sure that it's humor that would appeal to everyone, especially since some of the humor relates to Jewish words and customs. (Still, I found it all easily accessible even not being any particular expert on Judaism.) I think it would be great for males and females, and maybe even for middle school. The only remotely objectionable thing would be some cussing, but it is always done like "f&*$%." (Does that make it less objectionable? I don't know; I'm so glad I'm not a middle school librarian.) Anyway, I'm very happy to have another funny book to recommend. The book is told in first-person from Ari's POV, and he has a great voice. I also thought his thought-processes were realistic, funny, and well-developed. This wasn't a stunning book of enormous import and consequence, but it was (for me) well above average and very entertaining.

The Official Trailer from The Official Website:

[Note to authors and publishers: PLEASE make trailers available in formats besides YouTube so kids can watch them at school! You can post it the same way on SchoolTube even.]

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