Saturday, June 10, 2017

Naked '76, by Kevin Brooks

Lili Garcia never really stood out among her peers. She plays clasical piano (and is quite good), makes decent grades, is ok at small talk (although she doesn't really have any close friends). She was one of those people who was just...well, there. 

That is, until the day Curtis Ray, gorgeous, rebellious, and infamous, took notice and recruited her to play bass for his punk band, Naked. That day Lili had been holed up in her high school's practice room, working through a particularly difficult piece. Although she had never played bass before (and, really, never even considered it), Lili was drawn in by Curtis' charm (who wouldn't be?) and agreed to audition. Turns out she's a natural. Plus, the first time she plays, she literally bleeds all over the instrument (SO punk rock, btw!). It isn't long before Lili and Curtis are an item. Lili doesn't agree with Curtis' drug use or like many of the people he hangs out with, equally shocking and rebellious people who are part of the "scene," but she goes along because she is Curtis's girlfriend and that's what is expected of her. And she's too awed (and sometimes appalled) by everything to speak up. Besides, NO ONE dares to contradict Curtis. Because he's Curtis.

It isn't long before Naked is one of the most popular local bands, and Curtis' lifestyle becomes even more wild and unpredictable, embracing the Punk scene for everything it is. This strains things between him and Lili, and it isn't long before Lili meets William, another musician who seems everything Curtis is not. And maybe everything Lili really wants. But William is hiding things. Things that could make him even more dangerous than Curtis.

What initially attracted me to Naked '76, by Kevin Brooks was that the protagonist was a girl bass player. I myself am a female bassist. And, much like Lili, I'm the sort who kind of blends in (and doesn't mind doing so) and would rather hang back than be the life of the party (IF I can even be persuaded to attend the party). Although I've never been a Punk rocker myself, prefering the more laid-back genres of Blues and Classic Rock (60s, 70s, 80s), I enjoyed reading about the Punk Scene of the late 70s-early 80s. Brooks paints a realistic picture of the edginess, grit, and shock value as seen through the eyes of someone new to the scene...and perhaps someone who never got fully involved despite playing the music. Characters were realistic and believable. Overall, an interesting read.

Recommended for older teens (there's some mature content) and music fans. 

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