By Erin Hahn
** Publication Date 21 July 2020 **
Luke Greenly and his twin Cullen host a popular local podcast called Grass is Greenly. The twins couldn’t be more unalike – Luke blonde and quiet, Cullen dark and flamboyantly gay. Their dad is a former punk rock superstar still madly in love with his wife who teaches at the University of Michigan.
Vada is a music prodigy. Her “sperm donor” gave her the genes for musicality and honed her skills. But since he divorced her school principal mom, he hasn’t given her another thing. Vada harbors a lot of anger toward her father, and angst about her future. Already accepted into UCLA’s music journalism program, her dad refuses to even discuss helping her out with tuition. Her escape from reality resides in her job at the Loud Lizard, a local dive bar/club, and her modern dance class.
When the modern dance class invites the music composition class to observe for the annual dance recital, Luke decides he wants to compose a piece for Vada to dance to in the recital. Suddenly Vada, who has been pining for Luke since freshman year, and Luke who has been crushing on Vada just as long, are thrown together. Their shared love of music eases them into a comfortable friendship, but will it ever be more?
With a fabulous setting of the Loud Lizard as a background, the adventures of Luke and Vada finding each other amidst their hectic senior years of high school are draped in current and classic music. The author clearly knows her way around a song, as the whole novel is sprinkled with references to great music – popular and obscure. It plays as a soundtrack to Luke and Vada’s lives.
The unrealistic expectations of Luke’s dad, wanting him to be a music star, are very much like any parent – sometimes pushing the child to be something they don’t want to be. Vada’s tragic relationship with her dad is all too real as well. Her dad moved on to a new family and left his original child behind. Her fears about being able to afford school and achieving her dreams are very much what most teens today experience.
Loved this YA novel. With some graphic language, and themes of Christianity, homosexuality, and teen romance, it might not be for everyone. However, it touches on reality for teens today. I think this novel will be gracing many a teen’s bookshelf for years to come.