The Music of What Happens
Arthur A. Levine Books
Published February 26, 2019
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.
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.
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.
Jordan briefly talks about his mom going through a phase in which she was very interested in Christianity.
One boy punches another in the face and misaligns his jaw.
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.
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