Smear Campaign

Turning Shit into Gold since 2006

Books Look Cool, But Usually Suck

“I could hear it set to music: throbbing rock band chords and haunting repetitive melodies. I felt better. Rock always made me feel better.”


A few years ago, as Teenage Toto and I trolled through the dreary streets of London, we happened to stumble across a book at a charity shop called Don’t Blame the Music. Ten pence later and we were the owners of one of the greatest teen novels of all time. With no TV or radio at our disposal, Toto and I read and re-read the trials and tribulations of Susan Hall and her havoc reeking rock star sister who returns home with more body ink and STD’s then she left with.

Presented in stunning Smear vision, a review of Caroline B. Cooney’s teen drama novel.

Senior year, family strife, and one rocking soundtrack. In this Caroline B. Cooney teen classic, Don’t Blame the Music, the reader is violently thrown into the totally chaotic world of high school senior Susan Hall. If balancing two crushes, three theatre arts club classes, and a super strained relationship with a camomille-tea addicted mother and a football trophy motivated father isn’t enough, the rash return of her fallen rock star sister Trash, Aka Ashley, turns Susan’s special year topsy-turvy.

Unlike so many teen reads of late, this briskly paced melodrama wastes no time hiding its emotions in the closet. All grievances are laid on the line like dirty laundry in a public housing court.

Tensions escalate in the Hall household as Ash takes to reliving her glory days in the bedroom she shares with Susan. Strobe lights replace lava lamps, inflated jumpy castles become beds of shame, and crumpled clothes cover the gin soaked carpet. Before the rock star behavior can be stopped, Ash disposes of her father’s 1967 state football championship trophies, throwing them in the fireplace during her mother’s experimental Tupperware party.

Prodigal sister return aside, an intense rap/dance off erupts between Susan and her nemesis Shepherd when they battle for the affections of super stud choir captain Anthony Mongolia, in the social status-sectored cafeteria.

As hectic as this whole situation seems, there is light at the end of the kaleidoscope when the story climaxes with Ashley’s final breakdown. After slamming her boyfriend’s lightly tinted, windowless van into the neighborhood soda shoppe, she sees the Virgin Mary on a soft serve splattered wall. All the struggle that had plagued her youth are washed away by the hands of the image, righting all the wrongs of the past.

Reformed, refined, and VIP-access denied, Ashley and her sister Susan go on to form a Christian metal band called Cul-de-sac U-turn. The intense combination of throbbing rock chords and holy lyrics delivered at a shrill pitch are enough to win the duo accolades all across the heartland. If this review did not give away too much detailed drama, I encourage anyone with rock n roll in their soul to dabble in the pages of this captivating tale of family dysfunction. Remember, don’t blame the music…blame the beat.

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This entry was posted on October 29, 2009 by in Smear Stuff.

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