All The Wrong Chords by Christine Hurley Deriso
Published by Flux; scheduled for December, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 204 (ebook)
Wellll I broke my streak of super happy reviews, but that’s okay! Three in a row was great, and I’m thankful, and this one is not the end of the world. I think it’s time for another pro/con list!
Scarlett Stiles is desperate for a change of scenery after her older brother, Liam, dies of a drug overdose. But spending the summer with her grandfather wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Luckily, Scarlett finds something to keep her busy–a local rock band looking for a guitarist. Even though playing guitar has been hard since Liam died, Scarlett can’t pass on an opportunity like this, and she can’t take her eyes off the band’s hot lead singer either. Is real happiness just around the corner? Or will she always be haunted by her brother’s death?
I really liked every secondary character! Scarlett’s grandpa is awesome. Her best friend, Varun, is hilarious and I love their texting throughout the book. Her sister is great, the band members are great. You get it. Everyone is awesome. Except Scarlett, but we’ll get to that in the cons.
Is really easy to get through. It’s not a super long book, and it doesn’t feel like it. It’s a very quick, simple read.
I love any story that works music into it. I really like that Scarlett uses the band to help her with her feelings about her deceased brother.
I think it is portrayed very realistically, though, that said, I haven’t lost anyone as close as a brother to death. Everything associated with grief, like the sense of guilt and the “what if” and the heartbreak, that all felt very natural and realistic to me.
Ohhhh Scarlett. I am conflicted, because Scarlett does get better as the book progresses, and her decisions become much better toward the end also. Scarlett has some of my least favorite fiction “girl behavior” though.
- Scarlett is endlessly jealous of her sister’s looks/way with guys, though it’s mentioned several times that they’re often mistaken for identical twins?
- Scarlett ignores everyone and alienates her friend/sister to try to get closer to a guy who is clearly garbage.
- She treats the other band members poorly with the shitty guy, in order to establish some sense of camaraderie.
Her entire relationship (using the term loosely) with Declan is awful and painful and full of red flags she chooses to ignore. Now, I know, teenagers do this. We all choose people who are wrong for us (see 90% of everyone I’ve ever been involved with) but she becomes obsessed with Declan despite his ignoring her to hit on her sister, his constant dgaf attitude about their band, his actively treating her poorly, and his trying to get her to move faster physically than she wants to. NOT OKAY.
Again, people do this. We like the wrong people. But I thought back while reading this to some of my worse relationships, when I was my least rational, and I could at least always say things like:
“Well he’s a really charming alcoholic.”
“I know she’s mean but she’s really funny!”
“Okay yeah he lies a lot but he’s also really brilliant.”
My point is, they had good qualities. I’m sorry, but Declan has zero good qualities. She’s obsessed with him based solely on his looks, and lets it mess up everything for her for more than half the book. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so attracted to someone’s appearance that I’ve been willing to overlook character flaws in EVERY OTHER CATEGORY. Is this a thing? Maybe it’s just me, and please let me know if you’ve ever been so hot for someone that you didn’t care that they had nothing else going for them.
This made it really unrealistic for me, as you can see, and it made it hard for me to connect to Scarlett.
So, this quote from Scarlett really upset me:
“I’m being overly critical, right? Of course any normal guy is going to try to push things physically as far as he can. How many dudes are dying to “talk” in the middle of a make out session?”
Ooooookay. So, we have our narrator asserting the idea that a lot of young women have: “normal guys” can’t help themselves around us. They cannot control their impulses. They are mindless, vagina-seeking zombies, who want us for sex and only sex. This line of thinking disrespects everyone. That she attributes his fucked up behavior to his being male infuriates and disgusts me.
Even if she comes around to eventually seeing that Declan was a shit show, she doesn’t ever acknowledge that he put her in a bad situation, where she felt uncomfortable. She made this excuse and many others for the behavior, but never addressed it as a legitimate problem.
We. Cannot. Have. Narrators. We. Like. And. Want. To. Root. For. Contributing. To. Rape. Culture.
This makes me crazy.