Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Ballads of SuburbiaBallads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ballads of Suburbia has me feeling exactly as I did after How To Kill A Rock Star, as in geez.. do I hate it or I love it? I was sucked in that’s for sure. Kara’s story is depressing and sad;  the all of those others around her were equally so. One would think that stories such as the ones found here have been done to death already. Starting with the ordinary day to day of family drama, moving on teenage angst of being friendless and placeless, then  the getting out of one’s shell, to finding one’s people and finding one’s own thing like drugs (a lot of drugs) and music. Her story went up then down then down then down. YET, here I am still thinking about it.

I enjoyed the idea of each person having a story to share, a ballad (as the title offers) about something in their past explaining some of why they'd ended up as they were. They each had their own drama. And while normally, I’d be rolling my eyes over their ‘woe is me, my dad is an ass, or my brother’s abandoned me, or  my parents have split… so my life-is-shit schtick (that all of them had going), I read and bought the drama (some more than others, but I bought the drama nonetheless.)

The biggest negative I encountered was how out of place a mature observation seemed to come up out of nowhere, where one of them would for one reason or another wisened up and said they were going down a bad path because otherwise, all of them went with things with little complaint (some happily even.)  It just seemed so out of the blue and out of place with all the angsting.

It’s very angst filled and all of them could be very self-absorbed… Yet together, sometimes they could be better, not so alone, less unhappy about what they had to deal with, but they just never became 'good,' more often they simply dragged each other down. Each person in this is far from perfect, but I choked up for some, wanted something a little different for each of them. It’s definitely not a happy story, given the very few happy moments in it, but I shock myself in admitting that I’ve committed a major book no-no because by the books end… I’d found I’d dog-eared a couple (heck, more than a couple) of pages in it.

A steady climb from 1 to 4 of 5.
(Now, I wonder where I can get a copy of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. I’d gladly swap my copy of this for that one.)

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