Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Week 2 Book Review "Beautiful Music For Ugly Children"

I know from my book reviews it seems as if I read only young adult books, which could not be further from the truth, but occasionally these have fantastic messages, often left out of adult literature. I heard of this book at a meeting targeting and recognizing bullying, particularly among older teens.  The reason this particular title was suggested was not about the subject matter or particulars about the central character's life, but more about the failure of the adults around in recognizing just how difficult life can be.  Since everyone in the meeting was an adult, I guess the fingers were pointing at all of us.

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children  by Kirstin Cronn-Mills is the coming of age story of the central character, Gabe,whose senior year of high school is ending. He has landed a  position as the host of a late night public radio show featuring  the music he loves (primarily old tunes).   He hopes to use it as a stepping stone to a future career in radio.   "It's 90.3 KZUK, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, you're listening to Gabe"  We get to see Gabe's transition in real time as he begins to rid himself of his birth identity, Elizabeth (Yes, Gabe is a transgender who always knew he was supposed to be a boy)  and live the life he always knew should be his.  Since no one except for his best friends know "Elizabeth" has the job, Gabe is finally able to represent himself as the male he knows he is.  Thanks to his best friend's popularity, the show becomes a"must listen to" event and soon he has a cadre of followers who call themselves The Ugly Children Brigade.

I won't go into the finer details of the story, except to mention it is filled with conflict, from kids at school who call Elizabeth "that dyke, his conflict over his best friend, his parents refusal to believe this is anything but a stage Elizabeth is going through, and his romantic interest in a particular girl from school, as well as a public and painful "outing."

This is one of those books you will either like or hate. If you have seen bullying in any of ,its many forms then you might like this. If you believe opting to live as a different sex than you were born with is a choice, then this book is most likely not for you. If your mind is open to the concept that anomalies happen, well then give it a try  and let me know what you think of


  1. It sounds very YA (Young Adult) like--full of a lot of strife. Sometimes I wonder if there is a positive, fun book out there for teens where there aren't a lot of bad things happening.

    Did you get picked for a jury?

  2. I guess the writer's of YA cater to teen angst. Though this book was not all sunshine and roses the central character was pretty self aware and not looking externally for rescue.

    Nope, but I have to be there again in the morning to go through the rejection process all over again.

  3. I've not spent a lot of time reading for the last few year, I'm ashamed to say. I need to work on this.

    1. I read way too much, I finished 2 books this week and now I have to chose which to review. By next week I will have read something else and pretty much forgotten about these 2.