Band Geek Love by Josie Bloss. (Grades 7+)
This is what Ellie Snow has been waiting for. She's finally a senior. She's the trumpet section leader in marching band. Her best friend is drum major. And she's got a kick-butt solo. This is going to be awesome.
But things don't exactly turn out as Ellie has planned (which is annoying since Ellie really likes to plan things out and be in control). A distractingly cute boy shows up and joins her section. Then her friend starts trying to set the two of them up. And to complicate matters, Ellie's old crush reappears, still nonchalant about the fact that he broke her heart and ruined her life three years prior. What's a girl to do?
I really enjoyed this funny novel. True, Ellie is not always a likeable character. She's bossy and controlling and totally unable to let some things go. Even though she proclaims not to care that she's not popular, she's wrapped up in what everyone thinks about her (which is understandable, considering the complete and total humiliation she was put through her freshman year). But all of that just made her feel more real to me. I knew girls just like her in high school. And she's funny and interesting enough that I cared about her and wanted to read her story. Plus, she mellows out some by the end. ;)
Funny! There were bits that made me laugh out loud. Witty little one-liners that are just the kind of sarcastic humor I can really get on board with.
To her drum major friend Jake after he's made a comment about her solo (which sucked):
"Stop it, Jake, you don't give yourself enough credit," I said through clenched teeth. "We would have been lost without you waving your arms around up on that ladder. We probably would have accidentally marched into the lake and drowned." (pg. 13)
In conversation with her parents who are trying to figure out why she's upset:
"Are you depressed?" asked Mom, fearfully.
"Are you doing okay in your classes?" Dad asked.
"Oh, God, you aren't addicted to crystal meth, are you?" Mom practically shrieked. "Did you know they make that with poison?" (pg. 221)
And I love her turn of phrase, too. Great descriptions like:
Upon seeing the new kid for the first time:
He stood there with his hands on his hips, showing off broad shoulders, looking as calm and confident as if someone had just put him in charge of the world and he was pretty damn sure he was going to do a fine job, thanks. (pg. 15)
And rather than saying someone's voice was cold, she says:
...his voice approximately eighty-five degrees below zero. (pg. 226)
All in all, I really liked it. I didn't want to stop reading it (even when I was on vacation). And I was never even in marching band!*
I'm already looking forward to the sequel, Band Geeked Out, which is due out in April. You will definitely want to check out Josie Bloss's website and also these other reviews: Little Willow (and her interview with Josie Bloss), The YA YA YAs, and Confessions of a Bibliovore.
*Confession: I was a music major in high school, but I went to a performing arts school and wasn't in marching band. I did have friends in marching band, though, including one good friend who was drum major!