Author: Sara Lövestam
Length: 320 pages
Published by: Flatiron Books
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Diversity: biracial MC, minor queer characters
Source: eARC via NetGalley
This book was a really lovely surprise. I'll admit that I wasn't really engaged in the story at the beginning, but before I knew it, I was completely sucked in!
Steffi Herrera is such a wonderful character. Right from the beginning, I felt a connection to Steffi, and I think that will apply to tons of readers. It's not that she's relatable in any specific way - it's more that there's just something inside her that speaks directly to you. Sure, you could put her straight into the cliché boxes of the loner, the one who gets picked on, the one who doesn't quite fit in with her peers, but she never feels like a cliché. She just feels like a person, just like all the best characters do.
I really loved the way this story was told. I love books that have multiple plotlines coming together, especially when one is in the present and one is in the past. This book takes that to a remarkable level, with one story being set in the present and the other in the 1940s. I'll admit that the transitions were a bit clunky - pretty much every time, some sentence would be repeated almost exactly, going from first-person dialogue to third-person narration. The two stories were mostly separate, but the ways that they fit together made both of them stronger.
This was a really good book, but I found myself wishing that it were a movie. The music in this book was so important that i really wanted to hear it accompanying the story, and there were so many scenes that I could envision perfectly in my head. I want to hear Steffi play bass. I want to see the 1940s nightclubs. I want to experience everything.
By the end of the book, Steffi, Alvar, and their stories had firmly worked their ways into my heart, and I'm sure they'll do the same for you.
What are some of your favorite books that focus on music? What about books that you wish were movies? Tell me in the comments!
The Elegance of the Hedgehog meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower in this novel celebrating being a little bit odd, finding your people, and the power of music across generations.
For Steffi, going to school every day is an exercise in survival. She’s never fit in with any of the other groups at school, and she’s viciously teased by the other girls in her class. The only way she can escape is through her music—especially jazz music.
When Steffi hears her favorite jazz song playing through an open window of a retirement home on her walk home from school, she decides to go in and introduce herself.
The old man playing her favorite song is Alvar. When Alvar was a teenager in World War II-era Sweden, he dreamt of being in a real jazz band. Then and now, Alvar’s escape is music—especially jazz music.
Through their unconventional but powerful friendship, Steffi realizes that she won’t always be lonely in her small town. She can go to the music school in Stockholm. She can be a real musician. And she can be a jitterbug, just like Alvar.
But how can Steffi convince her parents to let her go to Stockholm to audition? And how is it that Steffi’s school, the retirement home, her music, and even her worst bully are somehow connected to Alvar and his story? Because as it turns out, everything is, in the end, linked...