Friday, May 11, 2012

3 NZ Music Month reads

NZ Music Month is back! To celebrate, I attempted to find some great music-themed NZ teen fiction. Here are a few music-related reads with some kiwi music matches.

Duet by David Hill (NZ)
Kallum plays guitar in a band called Septic Tank. He grudgingly accepts an invite to play in the local youth orchestra, where he meets the lovely Paige. Kallum is torn between his love of rock and his growing appreciation of classical music. The two also have big decisions to make when Paige becomes pregnant. I mainly enjoyed this book as I was part of the Taranaki Youth Orchestra back in the day (trumpet woot!) and found it amusing comparing the people I knew with Hill’s imaginary bunch. It’s got music, it’s got teen drama – perfect for a NZ music month read.

Music pick: Big Band Nirvana – Elemeno P. This song is on the special edition of their Love & Disrespect album. It’s a swing version of their rock track 'Nirvana' which features the Roger Fox Big Band. Basically, instead of electric guitars, bass and drums you’ve got Trombones, Trumpets and other brassy instruments. It’s fun but also fits nicely with Duet as it has a nice mash-up of the rocky lyrics with the big band, orchestral style.

Spider: a novel by William Taylor (NZ) Mathew 'Spider' Trent is a typical teenage bloke who happens to play the piano. He’s also awesome at playing the piano. In the book, Spider explains how he went from playing the national anthem at school assemblies to being a leading teen pianist and number 10 on a teen magazine’s hottest guy list. I like the book as it challenges stereotypes – Spider is not a pansy mama’s boy. He likes shooting possums and mucking about with his mates while chasing a certain girl and plotting how to get his hands on smokes and beer. Taylor shows that classical music is for everyone, even bloke-y blokes.

Music pick: My back-up choices are the national anthem as Spider plays it at every assembly and 'The Heart Asks Pleasure First' which is an excellent piano instrumental from the soundtrack of kiwi film The Piano. But 'Only to Be' by Six60 is my top pick as it’s the kind of music Spider would listen to and the line “I’ll live just turning pages” could suggest sheet music on a piano. The theme of following your dreams also fits well with the book.

Audrey, wait by Robin Benway (USA) Audrey, Wait is for every girl who has never wanted to be famous. Audrey is your regular teenage girl – she loves her best mate and her over-weight cat and lives for music. She also liked her ex-boyfriend Evan, until he got boring and she dumped him. Audrey just wants to move on, but now she can’t as he’s written a bitter song about their break up, and it’s a hit. With “Audrey, Wait” topping charts all over the world, Audrey is infamous. She’s getting swamped by paparazzi and its ruining her life. I like it as Audrey is a kick-ass character. She has a quirky sense of fashion and loves her music regardless of what anyone else thinks. It’s a great break-up read.

Music match: You’ll Never Take That Away – Jamie McDell. I feel like Jamie McDell’s break up song fits nicely with the book, particularly Audrey’s perspective. I see it as Audrey’s response, acknowledging mistakes were made on both sides, but that Audrey just wants to move on. Even though Evan’s written this famous song, he can’t take away Audrey’s dreams.

- Anna D, Botany Library

PS if you're looking for some more musicall-inspired reads... check out our musically inspired novels list (Annie).

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