Pub. Date: July 2009
Age Range: Young Adult
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.
Ever wonder if there's any novel that's full of tears, blood, pain, break ups and death but still amazingly gorgeous? Ballads Of Suburbia is the one. Surpassing Stephanie Kuehnert's debut I Want To Be Your Joey Ramone, this book will surely capture the heart of every teenage reader this summer.
When I first looked at the title, the word ballads told me I'd get something softer and less dark this time. But no, it was actually stronger and more intense, because ballads here aren't slow catchy songs about love, they are stories of the different but still relatable downfalls of young adults who live in the suburb of Chicago. I love the idea of that so much. Each character in the book had their own theme song as well as their own heart-shattering pieces of life. This way you just don't get to know the main character, you'll get to know every single one in the book, specifically their secret and maybe even the most vulnerable part of them. How they crossed path with each other, how their relationship changed through out various kinds of situations, how they dealt with their own problems would give you a complete picture of the suburbia. Like the author stood in the darkest corner of the place and revealed to you all the things that unhappy teenagers had to suffer.
The mention of sex, drug and self-injury could be considered somewhat heavy but I fully appreciated how the author portrayed them. It was flawless and like there was no holding back at all - what you read in the book is what truly happens out there in real life. They were the ways that our characters chose to escape from their anguish. And with Kara, Cassandra, Liam and everyone else, the readers who might be in the same cases would learn that facing the hardship and dealing with it wisely doesn't need to involve one of those three deadly things.
The characters in the book were really brilliant. They were so well built that you could just close your eyes and imagine them next to you so easily. I've never encountered any of their kinds in my life but for some reason they still felt awfully close and real. Each of them was beautiful in their own way - I'm not too sure with Christian, he's still an interesting character nevertheless. I also want to know more of the connection of Kara and Adrian - they were what one another had been looking for all the time but both were still insecure and scared to reach a commitment. Their love was vague and it kept me wondering and wondering.
I think Stephanie Kuehnert changed a bit of my attitude towards reading. I used to love they-live-happily-ever-after ending but now I'm in favour of open ones. It will get us ponder about live and cherish happiness even more. Ad even though this book was dark and painful, the ending still promised a better and brighter funture, which, was very encouraging.
Ballads Of Suburbia is a book that you will probably add to your favorite shelf. It reaches out to its every reader. You don't have to be fans of this or fans of that to enjoy this fierce piece of fiction. Trust me, you don't even have to Stephanie Kuehnert's fan to find yourself in love with Kara and her friends.