Jukebooks: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

I'll Meet You ThereSkylar is sooo ready to leave her tiny home town of Creek View and start college in San Francisco. All that lies between her and her dream is the three months of summer. Skylar doesn’t calculate that three months is more than enough to shake her determination to leave Creek View. It begins when Skylar’s mother is fired from her crummy job at Taco Bell, and doesn’t seem interested in finding a new one. Then there’s Josh Mitchell, a Marine who has just returned home to Creek View after being gravely injured in Afghanistan. Why can’t Skylar stop thinking about him? As they work together at the funky Paradise Motel, they seem to be moving towards friendship and maybe more.

The novel is full of songs, but the one that strikes most deeply is “Hotel California.” A hippie couple is playing it in one of the motel rooms as Josh and Skylar dance together in the pouring rain. Josh sings along during the lines:

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.

The song was written and recorded by the Eagles in 1977. Don Henley’s voice is wistful and weary as he describes a place that pulls you in until it’s impossible to leave. It won the Grammy Record of the Year award in 1977. The recording also includes a wicked guitar fest featuring Don Fender (12 string) and Joe Walsh (awesome) at the end of the vocals.

-Diane Colson, currently reading Lock In by John Scalzi.

Jukebooks: Life in the Fat Lane by Cherie Bennett

Life in the Fat LaneLara is the envy of the girls at Forest Hill High School, and why not? She’s beautiful, her family has money, and she can eat whatever she likes without gaining a pound. She glows as homecoming queen. But when Lara breaks out in hives, she takes a medication that causes her to gain weight. Horrified that she has gained ten pounds in a month, Lara stops taking her medicine. The hives come back. Lara’s perfect life turns into a nightmare as her weight soars over two hundred pounds. Everything changes.

Life in the Fat Lane was published in 1998, but it’s message of thin-is-in is even more true today. In 1998, no one was worrying about a “thigh gap.” But Lara’s feelings as she goes from pretty/popular to lonely  and laughed at still ring true today.

The title of the book is a play on “Life in the Fast Lane,” a song by the rock group Eagles. It’s included in their 1976 album, Hotel California. Add that title song plus another track, “New Kid in Town,” and a timeworn theme emerges: Not all that glitters in LA is gold.

The connection between a book that examines the fragile allure of body shape and a song that peels away the glamour of Hollywood  is stronger than it first appears. Here’s the music:

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey.