Author: Mark Peter Hughes
Genre: YA Lit
Summary: Various infractions lead five freshman, Wen, Stella, Charlie, Olivia, and Mohini (Mo) to serving detention at the same time. By way of fate, the quintet of misfits, who seem invisible like most all the rest of the clubs that aren't sports teams in their small Rhode Island town's high school, learn not only do they all have different musical talents, but that, despite starkly different backgrounds, these all mesh well with one another. Before long they,with the initial guidance of Mrs. Reznik, whose job is greatly reduced on the count of cuts of the school's music programs due to what is told to be budget shortfalls, the five of the kids set out to make their own music. But what seems at first as just something for fun soon becomes not just competition for another beloved band also made up of students from their school, but the soundtrack and voice for the disaffected who never had one before.
My take: Reading this book wound up being further proof that my curiosity, the vast majority of the time, seems to get the best of me. Mind you, I work at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman, Washington. While Pullman is a college town (home of Washington State University), driving around still gives you quite a bit of the small town feel, which is what most people, including myself, really like about it. But while most Wal-Marts, including the huge ones in Spokane, where I lived before relocating to Pullman, have wide varieties of most everything from groceries and clothes to even CDs, books, and DVDs, Pullman's selection of especially the latter is very very limited. In other words, if it's not very mainstream, consumed frequently by the Top 40 and Country Music radio crowds, then you'd probably be better off just ordering it from Amazon (On a side note, when I began working at the store about 7 months ago, the selection of books was awful. But now, even, there's been quite a better variety that makes it to our small book section, which doesn't suck).
Anyways, so with this in mind, I walked in to the store before work one day to find that one of the guys from our electronics/home entertainment department had stocked the DVD new releases shelves with a new Disney DVD release called Lemonade Mouth. Now, mind you, I already have known that over the last few years, the people who develop programming for the Disney Channel have been trying to step more away from mindless crap for teenie boppers; same goes for Nickelodeon and one of their off shoots, Teen Nick (one of my absolute favorite channels), after suffering miserably the several years following when they stopped making Hey Dude, Clarissa Explains, Salute Your Shorts, Pete and Pete, and the such. And while I am a big fan of such new shows/movies as Big Time Rush, Camp Rock, Band Slam (awesome movie), Degrassi (which has a lot of musical ancedotes and plot lines) and High School Musical, I constantly remind myself that these are the same people responsible for Hannah Montana, so not everything Disney touches is quality. But yeah, it had been a while since Disney did anything worth a crap, at least after wrapping HSM and the Camp Rock series, then making Band Slam, so I was a bit skeptical when I saw this new release in a bright yellow box that was just put out that morning. Still, I proceeded with caution, expecting some Hannah Montana offshoot. But when I read the synopsis, I was very interested in renting it first then, if I loved it enough, I'd buy it or ask for it for my birthday. But first, in learning that it was based on a book by Mark Peter Hughes, I knew I had to read this first.
Again, I am a sucker for anything to do with people, albeit unusually paired ones, coming together some way to make music. But in addition, I was always a loner in high school and anything but popular with very few, if any friends, so the plot from the get-go spoke to me. Even more to my surprise, though, the characters were anything but prototype, and there were never really any points where the plot was absolutely predictable. What I love the most about this book, though, is Hughes' combination of social commentary and a call to action to disaffected youth, of whom I have a good mind to think that he was trying to speak to during the writing process. However, the social commentary isn't horribly preachy. And while the subject matter might cause a bit of controversy, especially when talking about the public school system's misuse of public funds and how a lot of students that aren't jocks are given the shaft accordingly, Hughes does it in a way so that it's not the jocks who get demonized like what happens in some other YA lit, but rather the increasing number of crooked public school administrations.
I really could relate to all of the main five characters in some way or another, on the count of the struggles in my own youth of learning to be myself and not caring about what anybody really thought of it (this is something that I have only recently begun to embrace, finally shedding all of the facades and faces I've put on over the years). But one revelation towards the end regarding Stella, which I won't give away, was one of the things I could definitely relate to, which I won't give away. Still, I would've wanted to see this revealed earlier on in the novel, and definitely more developed to describe how this affected all aspects of her life.
That tiny little gripe aside, though, Lemonade Mouth is one of the best books I've read in a long time and, dare I say, one of the best I've ever read.
2/50 Books Read