Ballads of Suburbia - Stephanie Kuehnert

Friday, January 22, 2010
Ballads are the kind of songs that Kara McNaughton likes best. Not the cliched ones where a diva hits her highest note or a rock band tones it down a couple of notches for the ladies, but the true ballads: the punk rocker or the country crooner telling the story of their life in three minutes, the chorus reminding their listeners of the numerous ways to screw things up. In high school, Kara helped maintain the "Stories of Suburbia" notebook, which contained newspaper articles about bizarre and often tragic events from suburbs all over and personal vignettes that Kara dubbed "ballads" written by her friends in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. Those "ballads" were heartbreakingly honest tales of the moments when life changes and a kid is forced to grow up too soon. But Kara never wrote her own ballad. Before she could figure out what her song was about, she was leaving town after a series of disastrous events at the end of her junior year. Four years later, Kara returns to face the music, and tells the tale of her first three years of high school with her friends' "ballads" interspersed throughout.

I just finished this book about twenty minutes ago and absolutely needed to write a review before I went to bed! After I finished this one, I just sat there staring off into space and just digesting what went on through the novel. It was truly wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time, I felt for everyone. Stephanie Kuehnert has such a distinct writing style that makes each of her characters, no matter how minuscule their parts may seem, have such a personality.

I recommend this book to anyone, whether you're struggling with an addiction yourself or you know of someone who is, this is the read for you. It took me back to the many times I had to deal with my sister and her various issues and it makes my heart a little softer. Some of the things these poor kids went through is just mind boggling. Please read this one - I know you'll be amazed and saddened at the same time - I know I was. I love the cover too, even though there's a picture of a happy duck on it there's still such loneliness and solitude in it and I felt like the cover could depict Kara's feelings through the book.



fredamans said...

Sounds like an emotional read. Not sure if it will hit too close to home for me, but maybe will give it a shot.
Excellent review!

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