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Ballads of Suburbia
Stephanie Kuehnert
MTV Books

While on the whole, I enjoyed my time in high school, I do NOT miss high school. Kuehnert’s second novel REALLY drives that point home. I do not miss the outright verbal viciousness, the stress of learning how to date, and the shit tons of friends loaded to the eyeballs on drugs I couldn’t pronounce.

Ballads follows Kara and her immediate social circle as they deal with divorce, depression, death and some other terrible things that start with the letter D. And in true teen fashion, they do so through the punk lifestlye of “sex, drugs and rock and roll.”

When her parents divorce, Kara and her brother Liam have to stick together to deal with their mother’s depression. Add in the loss of a childhood friend, not to drugs or death, but by apathy, and Kara tries to avoid being sucked into the voids of suburbia. Kara and Liam find a new family in a rag-tag group of pierced and tatted misfits. Remember the stupid decisions you made when YOU were sixteen and the reasoning behind them? Yea, that’s in here.

If you remember your high school logic, than you can pretty much guess where shit is headed in Ballads. People get addicted, people hook up, people freak out and people die. Just like real life!

It’s a compelling and cleverly designed book, and you should really get in on this. Even if it reminds you of how much of a dumbass you were in high school.

–Jonathan Yost