Saturday, January 4, 2020

Six Degrees of Separation: From Daisy Jones and the Six to This Song Will Save Your Life

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is Kate’s starting book this month.  It got great reviews and I actually checked it out from the library over the summer but did not get around to reading it.  Still, I know it’s about a rock band so I stuck with the theme of rock music for my first book:
Till the Stars Fall by Kathleen Gilles Seidel (1994).  This book is about siblings in Minnesota, Krissa and Danny French, who realize one of them needs to make it out of their poor mining community.   Danny somehow gets to Princeton (although Krissa is the brilliant student) and makes friends with Quinn Hunter, and they start a rock band that becomes very successful.   Krissa and Quinn fall in love, although as I recall, the book is much more than a romance and the romance is very rocky.   I remember reading this book in manuscript form when I worked at Penguin; it was uber-talented editor Jennifer Enderlin who acquired two books by Seidel and was eager for my feedback. I also remember we argued about the cover design forever and the end result was unimpressive (my memories of Penguin include a lot of cover arguments between sales and editorial; oddly enough, when I worked at Putnam Berkley sales was not allowed at cover meetings, so I wonder how it works now that the two companies are merged).
Rock stars made me think of my second book, Mel by Liz Berry (1988), an English writer who produced several offbeat but memorable YA novels.  Here, 17-year old Mel is dealing with her mother’s hospitalization and the old Victorian house they live in when she is (I can’t recall exactly how) swept off her feet by charismatic rock star Mitch.

My third book is about rock wannabes: Our Secret Better Lives by my friend Matthew Amster-Burton (2017), perhaps better known for his charming book Hungry Monkey which I enjoy giving at baby showers.  Our Better Secret Lives is coming of age story about Katy, a college student who suddenly finds herself playing the guitar, writing songs, and starting a rock band.   This book practically made me feel I was part of the grunge scene.

All the rock stars above are benign, as I recall, but the one in my fourth book is a jerk.  Audrey, Wait is by Robin Benway (2008), whose books are getting better and better (I really liked Far from the Tree).  In this one, Audrey’s annoying ex-boyfriend-rock-star's song about their breakup reaches the top of the charts and she's suddenly famous – and not in a good way.
My fifth book is Born to Rock by Gordon Korman (2006).  Korman wrote his first book when he was 12 and his writing seems to be split between lighthearted middle grade or YA fiction and some more suspenseful series.  I have to admit I especially enjoyed his Chasing the Falconers series and a YA novel called Jake, Reinvented that was a retelling of The Great Gatsby. This book is about a conventional teenager who learns his biological father is the lead singer of punk rock's most destructive band.
My sixth book is a little different.  Although there is at least one rocker in it, This Song Will Save Your Life (2013) by Leila Sales is about music and a lonely teenager who becomes a DJ.  It was a 5-star book for me that year.  I attended a book signing at the Brookline Booksmith a couple years ago and enjoyed meeting her.
I was tempted to use The Exes by Pagan Kennedy, a fairly well-known novel about an Indie Boston rock band composed of musicians who have slept together.  However, I didn’t want to include something I hadn’t read.   I wonder if this would be a good choice for my book group?   It is my turn to choose (I wish I got to pick every month but it is a reward for the hostess) but I already chose The Game by George Howe Colt (married to Anne Fadiman) for when I host later this month.  So far it is fabulous!
Next month's book is Fleishman is in Trouble by a woman who writes for the New York Times Magazine and likes to profile celebrities.   She is best known for a piece about Gwyneth Paltrow.


stargazer said...

Great chain, I love the rock star theme ! This Song Willl Save Your Life sounds like an interesting one, I may have to look into it (not that I'm in acute need of more reading material :-) ). Oh, and you used to work for Penguin? That must have been interesting!

Susan said...

What a great set of links! I have to agree with you about that Seidel jacket, though.

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

I haven't read any of these, but I liked your chain idea

Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest said...

Hmmm...nothing about the cover of Till the Stars Fall says rock band! I think they should have listened yo you :-)

Literary Feline said...

I enjoyed reading through your chain and seeing how you connected each of the books through rock bands. Thank you for sharing!

Marg said...

I enjoyed your chain!