My reviewrating: 4 of 5 stars
What a cute book, I kept thinking as I read. I know these kids... I know this world... how cute!
This story of Ari, who doesn't fit in (he's the beta to Jonas' alpha), has one goal: to be a punk star. Have some indie cred. There's a secondary goal of not going to Brandeis, but the punk rock star thing is paramount. Especially after learning a few chords at Camp Ramah.
So, Ari schemes and plots and convinces Jonas to join a band. Then he get Yossi, the weird, Talmud-addicted student at their Conservative Jewish high school. Yossi's parents insist (whether this is actually true is never established) that Reena, their daughter, also join. And off they are on a great adventure that includes an opening "gig" at a bar mitzvah, a foray to NYC's indie band scene (and the Battle of the Bands), and the battle between Sari and Larafromcamp for Jonas' affections.
As I said, I know these kids. Not just the Conservative Jewish part, but the kid part. Ari's voice felt very, very real (difficult to do with a 16/17-year-old character), as did those of the other characters. There were a few quibbles (of course) but I'm guessing most will be taken care of in the final editing process. One bigger question that wasn't answered in the book or in the credits: were the authors aware of, or inspired by, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' 2004 album "Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah"
(NOTE: Free ARC received from publisher)
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