I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone- Stephanie Kuehnert
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?I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is indeed a raw, edgy, and emotional read. This is more than the story of a girl rising to fame, than a girl who's mother left her as a baby, than anything that I can explain in one little phrase.
Emily is a great character. She's tough and strong, but not so much that she isn't human. She does what she wants to, and while at times she does fail, she always picks herself back up again. She's a character that I'm not at all like, but I am still able to relate to her, to feel for her, to feel triumph with her.
Louisa, who doesn't make many right choices, does try her best. She left Emily soon after Emily was born, because she couldn't be strong enough. Louisa has a dark past and she can't get over it. Emily's told by her dad, who's great by the way, that Louisa left to follow the music, to be free, and Emily's always believed that. She has to. For however much Emily tries to hide her feelings for Louisa, it's not enough. Parents always leave a huge mark on their children, whether they're there or not. Louisa's leaving has made Emily a different person than she would be if she'd grown up with a mother.
The novel takes place in the 90s with flashbacks to the 80s and 90s. The narration is divided between Emily, in first person, and Louisa, in third person. Sometimes I'd get confused with the time. Usually, the year is mentioned though, which is helpful. However, I'm one of those people who needs a time line to set everything straight. Sadly, I was too lazy to do a time line, and was therefore confused at times as to when events happened compared to others.
The love for music just flowed off the pages. I was seriously craving to listen to the 90s punk rock bands mentioned, even though I don't usually. But Emily's love for music, and Stephanie's love for music, is so apparent that it just screams at you to listen to their music.
The ending put me off a little though. I feel that, while suitable and realistic, it left me a bit dazed, a bit confounded. It's not one of those endings that makes the book feel complete, if you know what I mean. Even though the ending didn't quite cut it for me, the rest of the book did. And if you haven't picked this book up, I suggest you do. I know I'm itching to read Ballads of Suburbia now!
If you're interested in learning more about Stephanie Kuehnert, Kay Cassidy has featured her, and she has her own blog where currently, a Cyber Launch Party is going on, with ballads from several authors, contests, and fun stuff.