Jukebooks: Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Divided We Fall by Trent ReedySeventeen-year-old Danny Wright had a plan for his future. It included fixing up a mechanics shop and making a decent life for himself and his high school sweetheart, JoBell. To get a little money to fund his dream, Danny signs up for the Idaho National Guard. That’s when his future gets seriously whacked.

The president of the United States has signed a bill that will require all U.S. citizens to carry a government ID card. The governor of Idaho disagrees with this law, calling it an invasion of privacy. Little does Danny suspect that when this disagreement heats to the point of violence, he will be the one to fire the first shot.

A major theme of the book is the definition of patriotism, as the people of Idaho are forced to choose between loyalty to their president or loyalty to their governor. As an antidote for this violent divisiveness, here’s Lee Greenwood’s classic, God Bless the USA. 

-Diane Colson, currently reading Vengeance by Megan Miranda

Jukebooks: More Than Good Enough by Crissa-Jean Chappell

More Than Good Enough by Crissa-Jean ChappellTrent’s insecurities are pulling him into a deep funk. He’s cut so much school that his grades are shot. He’s lost his hot girlfriend. Trent just doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere, not with his British-born mom, and not with his father, a member of the Mikasuki Indian tribe.  When parents decide that Trent should go live with his father at the Rez in the Everglades, Trent’s anger and self-loathing increase. The one thing he still has, however, is music.

Trent can identify with Jimi Hendrix, who was part Cherokee. He feels as if, “…his rage channeled into my hands.” Few know of Trent’s musical expertise, especially that he can compose music worthy of Hendrix comparisons.

Most teens today have heard of Hendrix, either because of his guitar wizardry or because of his tragic death at 27. A smaller number understand that Hendrix created sounds on the guitar that had never been heard before. Below is Bob Dylan’s All Along the Waterfront, which Hendrix recorded in 1968. It’s mentioned by Trent in More Than Good Enough, and stands as an excellent example of Hendrix’s instrumental prowess.

-Diane Colson, currently reading an advanced reader’s copy of In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa

Jukebooks: The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

The Scar Boys by Len VlahosWhen he was eight years old, a bully tied Harry to a tree as a thunderstorm approached. Lightning struck the tree just above Harry’s head, resulting in severe burn injuries on his face. Now Harry is looking back as he writes an essay for a college application, remembering the years of loneliness and ridicule that preceded his friendship with a guy named Johnny. Johnny shares Harry’s passion for music. The two of them eventually formed a band with two other musicians, appropriately named The Scar Boys. 

The book is set in the 1980s, and is filled with musical allusions from that time. While The Scar Boys primarily play original music, they do have one cover song, These Boots Are Made for Walkin. That would be fun to hear! The song was written by Lee Hazelwood and originally performed by Nancy Sinatra (daughter of Frank) in 1966. Incredibly, there is a music video in which Nancy and her girls do some fancy go-go dancing. Try not to think of your grandfather watching this one.

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Museum of Intangible Things (advance reader’s copy) by Wendy Wunder


Jukebooks: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

The Killing Woods by Lucy ChristopherThat terrible night, Emily watched as her father emerged from the woods, carrying the dead of body of Ashlee Parker. Her father, who suffers from post traumatic stress disordersince his war service, cannot remember how he found Ashlee’s body, and is subsequently arrested for her murder. At the same time, Ashlee’s boyfriend, Damon, knows that he was with Ashlee that night. They were in the woods with three of Damon’s friends, playing “The Game.” Damon thinks he walked Ashlee to a path that would her home, but the truth is that Damon does not remember what happened that night. But he suspects it was bad.

As author Lucy Christopher wrote this complex thriller, she needed music to keep her inspiration flowing. Fortunately, Christopher has a connection to the Cardiff-based anti-folk band Quiet Marauder. They created four tracks for The Killing Woods (available on iTunes), in tandem with Christopher’s writing progress. The book influenced the music, the music influenced the book. 

Below is one of the four tracks for The Killing Woods, demonstrating their high camp artistry with appropriately sinister overtones.

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Jukebooks: The Book of Love by Lynn Weingarten

Book of Love by Lynn WeingartenThis was how it happened in The Secret Sisterhood of the Heartbreakers: Lucy’s heart had been broken, and within seven days she broke the heart of Tristan, a boy who loved her. Lucy brought the brokenhearted tear to The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, who used the magical power of the tear to make Lucy part of the Sisterhood. Lucy will never be brokenhearted again.

Too bad that same is not true for Tristan.

In Book Two of the series, the SSH is competing for a chance to win The Book of Love, which contains wisdom and magic dating back centuries. Lucy finds herself hoping that the book will show her the way to help Tristan, but instead it reveals so much more.

There is an old song, originally released in 1957, called Who Wrote the Book of Love. It was written by three members of “The Monotones,” a doo-wop vocal group from Newark, New Jersey. If you haven’t heard of the group, it’s because Book of Love was their only hit. Here they are performing on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech Nut Show, lip-syncing and nervously working out their dance moves:

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Jukebooks: September Girls by Bennett Madison

September Girls by Bennett MadisonWhat. A. Summer. Sam didn’t think it would pan out to much, going to the beach with his older brother, Jeff, and his newly singled Dad. But the sleepy old beach is filled with beautiful blonde girls. Usually Jeff is the guy who gets the girls. Not this summer. They all seem interested in Sam.

Madison’s novel is a combination of summer romance and paranormal horror. It also contains a portrayal of sexism that has prompted strong reader reactions. A thoughtful analysis of these issues (with SPOILERS) can be found on The Book Smugglers blog. To get a sense of the intensity surrounding the discussion, take a look at the comments on goodreads.com.

The New Yorker, November 16, 2009Personally, I enjoy a good discussion on sexism. I was a teen in the 1970s, when feminism was seeping its way into the national consciousness, challenging the fairness of everything from high school sports to underwear. It’s an important issue during adolescence and early adulthood for both sexes, as awareness of one’s own sexual identity emerges. Life may alter these convictions over time, but it’s important to begin with an understanding of the insidious nature of  sexual discrimination.

Fittingly, the band, September Girls, is a five-woman band from Dublin that combines intense reverb with catchy melody. Want to hear how it’s done? Check out their video below.

-Diane Colson, currently reading The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

Jukebooks: Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison

The bullies  call her “The Beast.” Her own father said she was ugly, just before he disappeared from her life. But Beth can sing, and when her voice soars above the rest of the choir, she is indisputably beautiful. She’s better than all the others in the school choir, which means that Beth will be front and center when they compete in the Choral Olympics. Turns out that when Beth gets a few style adjustments, and an enormous attitude adjustment, the Beast disappears completely.

Morrison wrote the lyrics for the songs, a process she describes on blogginboutbooks.comShe also includes some great photos in tribute of Matt Quaife, a young singer with Amabile’s Young Men’s Choir who died of cystic fibrosis in 2007. There is a lot of pure emotion in the creation of this book, culminating in Morrison’s composition Beth’s Song.

This is the book trailer created for Sing Me to Sleep. Beth’s Song, with a beautiful solo by Shayna Follington with the Amabile Young Man’s Ensemble and Men’s Choir in accompaniment, comes in near the middle of the recording.

Diane Colson, currently reading Burning Paradise  by Robert Charles Wilson

Jukebooks: Guitar Boy by M.J. Auch

Guitar Boy by MJ AuchTravis sits in the old wood cabin built by his great-great-great grandfather Eli, holding the guitar built with Eli’s own hands. His heart is broken. Travis’s mother is hospitalized after a serious car accident, and his father has nearly lost his own mind with grief. Minutes before, Travis’s father had been ready to smash the old guitar against the wall. Now, cradled in Travis’s hands, the guitar vibrates with the spirit of years long past.

It was Travis’s mother who could really play. She knew all the old gospel songs, tunes that Travis knows down in his bones. Sitting in the lonely cabin, Travis begins to play and sing.

Sometimes I feel Like a motherless child.
Sometimes I feel Like a motherless child.
Sometimes I feel Like a motherless child.
A long way from home.
A long way from home.

Motherless Child is a powerful Negro spiritual that once expressed the grief of slaves separated from their homeland, sold apart from their family, and shorn of human respect. The slow, beautiful tune voices a plaintive cry that comes from our most helpless selves, granting emotional release in its simple repetition.

The song has been recorded many, many times, by artists ranging from Billie Holliday to Prince. My favorite version is sung by Odetta (Holmes,) who performed it on April 8, 1960, at Carnegie Hall.


-Diane Colson, currently listening to The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, read by Gretchen Mol

Jukebooks: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year CoverThree years earlier, Willem spent one day with a girl he called Lulu, because she had a “passing resemblance to Louise Brooks.” Now he realizes he should never have let her go. Driven by yearning, Willem takes off from his native Amsterdam to find Lulu.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t know her real first name or her last name. Willem does recall that Lulu talked about spending the winter holidays in a resort that looked like a Mayan temple. Following a desperate hunch, he finds himself spending New Year’s Day in Cancun, Mexico.

Weary from the wandering and fruitless search, Willem takes a solitary swim in the sea. From the shore, he can hear someone strumming Stairway to Heaven. It’s a lovely scene: The moon on the water, the music wafting in from the shore, and the sweet warmth of the tropical air. But Willem is alone in a world that seems far too large to search out his one special person.

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin is one of the most beautiful rock songs of the 1970s. Composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant , the song begins with a slow, lovely melody and evolves into a rock symphony that soars with Page’s guitar riffs (played 0n a double-neck Gibson) and Plant’s soulful, screaming vocals. The video recording below is from Zeppelin’s concert film, The Song Remains the Same.  This segment was recorded in Madison Square Garden in 1973.


Diane Colson, currently reading Sex and Violence: a novel by Carrie Mesrobian.