Release Date: July 21, 2009
Summary (from Amazon):
Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....
Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.
Character Development: 9/10
Total Score: 57
Age Appropriate Rating:
Drugs, alcohol, etc.: 20/10
Sexual Content: 8/10
This novel was brilliant. It was difficult to read at times. It had raw characters in harsh situations. It depicted a scene I was rather unfamiliar with; drugs, alcohol, self abuse, partying, suicides, overdosing, and even the family dynamics seemed strange to me. Normally these things would make me hate a book but this one was different. It was just real. Obviously not my “real” but the reality of the stories (or ballads) in this novel represented so many nameless people. It opened my eyes up to an unseen world.
The characters were great. I hated them and loved them and wished I could help them in some way. I did not relate to anyone directly but each one of them moved me in such a profound way. Their ballads are what really made each character come alive because they were in that character’s POV about the one moment that impacted them the most. It really made you look through their eyes and really see the stair step of events that lead to their downfall of decisions (but it in no way justified the drug usage!).
It goes without saying that the voice was great. It kept me hooked from the beginning with such a nice flow to it. It was interesting how it was placed like a song. The parts were verses or choruses that took place during a certain time. It was also interesting how Stephanie could find one song lyric to represent the entire part or ballad so perfectly. That's definitely a unique talent!
Emotion poured off the page. I cried and laughed. I was shocked and disappointed. I felt each characters struggles and triumph. I was there, in that town, with those people, feeling awful and happy and worried. Emotion is most definitley not lacking in this novel.
The only thing I had a problem with (and it was very minor) was that at times the pacing could get confusing. Some chapters were only a day and others a month. Besides the timeframe in the beginning of the part, the date was based purely on your own assumption. I think it would have been helpful with a date at the beginning of each chapter but I can also realize how Kara wouldn’t realize the exact date if she was writing this 4 or 5 years in the future. Overall I think that’s my own personality getting in the way since I have to have times and dates and plans to keep from getting too stressed so ignore this if you must.
This novel was addicting. It was harsh, raw, cruel, sad, and painful but the scariest of all is that this is real. In one powerful novel whole worlds are exposed. I recommend this novel to anyone ready to see the truth.
Don’t expect a happily ever after. This isn’t that story. This is the ballad of an awful truth, hidden and ignored in our society, which is finally being sung out loud.