Tag Archives: Arthur A Levine Books

Review: The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

The Music of What Happens
Bill Konigsberg
Arthur A. Levine Books
Published February 26, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads

About The Music of What Happens

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk — to get the thing they want the most.

My Review

I think I’m totally a sucker for a book with great voices in it. You know those books where you can tell whose point-of-view you’re reading because each character talks and thinks in a way that’s uniquely them? THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS totally has that, and I love it. I bought in to Max and Jordan’s stories and their very different lives with single moms and with their very different friend circles. Honestly, I couldn’t get enough.

I loved that THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS made use of stereotypes to help us understand some minor characters but also used the character cast to challenge stereotypes and assumptions. A few times I found myself re-examining a conversation or situation and thinking of things from a new perspective because of a point Max or Jordan made, and I love that, too. Love that the story makes me think in unexpected ways.

One thing I didn’t like so much was the amount of profanity. I get that people really talk that way, and maybe using the words makes it feel more authentic, but sometimes it felt like overkill to me. Like, we get who these guys are, we don’t need quite so many reminders everywhere. But that’s a personal preference for me.

On the whole, I really enjoyed THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS. I think I have at least one other book by Konigsberg, so I’m eager to check that one out soon.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16up.

Both main characters are gay. Max’s mom is Mexican. A couple side characters are also Latinx.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently. Some crude language used as well.

Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger Warning
A couple references to arousal. Some hints or statements that characters have had sex, but no descriptions of the event itself. Some descriptions of kissing and cuddling.

One character shares memories of being raped. The sexual part isn’t described in detail, but the way the character feels comes across very strongly. Sensitive readers or readers recovering from trauma may find those scenes difficult to read.

Spiritual Content
Jordan briefly talks about his mom going through a phase in which she was very interested in Christianity.

Violent Content
One boy punches another in the face and misaligns his jaw.

Drug Content
Max drinks a few beers to loosen up at a party. Another boy offers him pot, but Max declines, though he’s in the room when the other boy smokes it.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS in exchange for my honest review.

Review: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1)
Jaclyn Moriarty
Arthur A Levine Books/Scholastic, Inc.
Published April 1, 2013

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About A Corner of White

In real-world London, Madeleine and her mother are runaways. Together they escaped from a previous life in which they were rich and lived all over the world. At first Madeleine thought their leaving was a lark. The truth is something she may never be ready to accept.

Elliot, resident of the land of Cello, prepares for his next trip away. He’s been searching for his father, who went missing the night his uncle died. Rumors say a purple murdered his uncle and dragged his father and a local woman to its cave as prisoners. If Elliot can catch the right spell, he can find them and bring them home.

When a letter from Cello asking for help turns up in a parking meter in London, Madeleine answers it, believing it’s probably a prank of some kind. As she corresponds with Elliot, who receives her letters in Cello, she begins to wonder if what he says could be real. Could there really be another world, one connected only by a crack the size of a folded note?

As problems swell around both Madeleine and Elliot, they look to each other for confidence as they struggle to sort things out. Madeleine takes refuge in knowledge. Elliot must guard the “Butterfly Child,” a tiny girl who may be able to save his town from ruin.

My Review

Madeleine and Elliot’s journeys are wildly imaginative and fun. From the color attacks that plague the people of cello to the vivid characters of Madeleine’s friends and teachers, the story stays interesting as the conflict grows.

As Elliot explains where he lives and what it’s like, Madeleine responds with criticism for the lack of creativity in the names of the locations and the strangeness of his world. It’s kind of funny because it’s the sort of criticism a reader might give a writer, but within the story, Cello is a real place. I enjoyed that bit of paradox.

I thought I knew where the story was headed, and in part I was right. There were some elements that emerged, though, that I really didn’t see coming. They made for a great set-up leading into the sequel to the story, THE CRACKS IN THE KINGDOM, which came out in March of 2014.

Content Notes

Profanity/Crude Language
Moderate profanity used very infrequently.

Sexual Content
Brief kissing. Vague references to Elliot’s romantic history as a heartbreaker.

Spiritual Content
One of Madeleine’s friends believes in astrological signs and the other believes in reading auras. Both have some minor significance in the plot. In Cello, spells can be captured from a magical lake.

In Elliot’s world, waves of color attack people with varied levels of intensity. His uncle died from an attack by a purple the night his father disappeared. Elliot was the one who found his body (described briefly.)

Drug Content