A raw, edgy, emotional novel about growing up punk and living to tell.
The Clash. Social Distortion. Dead Kennedys. Patti Smith. The Ramones.
Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?
Emily Black, heroine of this '90s-era novel, grows up in a small Wisconsin town where everyone expects her to turn out "bad," like her mother, Louisa, who abandoned husband and daughter early in Emily's childhood. Emily eagerly imbibes the legends about Louisa (her favorite: fleeing town on the back of a motorcycle, a teenage Louisa hurls her high heels through store windows on Main Street) and tells herself she doesn't miss her mother, yet Emily nurtures herself on Louisa's punk-rock ethos, eventually forming a band. Debut author Kuehnert keeps the story raw and gritty as Emily's band starts making it on the music scene, throwing in plenty of sex, booze and drugs, but weakens her grip by alternating Emily's story with Louisa's. The two are briefly reunited in a coincidence-heavy, rushed ending. The writing runs toward excess ("In the dim moonlight, remorse bruised circles under her dark eyes and traced lines around them") but the intensity of the characters' emotions and experiences will beguile many teen readers. Ages 14 up.