Sunday, December 14, 2014

I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil -- OPTIONAL

Weil, Cynthia I'm Glad I Did, 272 pgs. Soho Teen, January 27, 2015. $18.99. Language: PG-13 (18 swears; no 'f'); Violence: PG-13; Mature Content: PG-13 (some references to drugs and extramarital affairs, though neither are condoned)

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame lyricist Cynthia Weil's debut novel sees 1963 New York City through the eyes of sixteen-year-old JJ Green. An aspiring songwriter, JJ defies her family to work in the Brill building, a landmark in the music industry. Rubbing elbows with famous singers and writing a hit song with the mysterious Luke Silver is a dream come true. There's a dark side to her job, though -- one that includes secrets, theft, and possibly even murder.

Weil's experience in the music industry allowed her to sprinkle fascinating details throughout her story, and I loved how they made the time period come alive on so many of the pages. With such a unique premise and with the author's background, I so wanted to love this book and, indeed, I went into it expecting to recommend it to everyone afterward. Unfortunately, there was a lot of telling throughout, the middle section had some very slow spots, and several of the characters -- including JJ's family members -- seemed less like real people and more like they were simply thrown into the story in order to provide conflict. All in all, it felt a bit as if the book's main selling point had more to do with Weil's background in the industry than with the actual story and its characters.

HS -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

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