Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review by Alex- Ballads of Suburbia

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....

Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

First Impression: Probably really really great. It's raved about by pretty much everyone else, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, by the same author, is wonderful. It's going to be amazing.

And I was right.

Ballads of Suburbia is a tale of a group of lonely teenagers, finding solace with each another, with alcohol, with drugs. All of them have messed up families, all of them have their own story to tell.

The novel starts with an epilogue, with Kara, back after 4 years. Then it launches into Kara's story as a teen, starting with her childhood and going onto her late teens. Interspersed within Kara's story are ballads of others, of her friends. Each story is unique and haunting and beautiful.
Stephanie Kuehnert surpassed my expectations of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. That one was good, but this one, I love. It's so relateable. I like to live vicariously through novels, and Ballads of Suburbia is absolutely perfect in that way. There's never a dull moment in the book- there's heart break and drug abuse, problems and friendships.

The thing I love most about Ballads, or one of the things at least, is all the different relationships. It really shows just how much other people can effect us. Parents, siblings, friends, romantic partners (for lack of a better term; sorry, can't think). I lovelovelove that. How Kara's shaped by her parent's marriage's disintegration. How she is willing to change and love her brother, Liam. How a friendship with Maya can make her stronger. How being with Adrian can pull her into drugs and lust. This isn't to say that Kara is completely shaped by others, but I think everyone is greatly affected by others.

It's just- it's raw, you know? But not so much so that's it's unreadable. The writing is beautiful and the whole novel is unflinching and honest.

Final Impressions:
Such. An. Amazing. Story. Slash stories. Seriously. If you haven't read it, just go buy it now. It's definitely a keeper.

Favourite character: Definitely Liam, Kara's younger brother. He's adorable and sweet and all around lovable. Other's may like Kara's love interest, Adrian, but to me there's only Liam. Seriously, I want a Liam of my own.

Oh, and if you want to WIN your own copy of Ballads of Suburbia, I do know The Book Pixie is giving away a copy here.


  1. I'll probably end up reading this one, even if it's not my normal genre.

  2. I have been wanting to read this for so long. I don't know why I haven't already, I hear nothing but good things. Thanks for the review!

  3. This looks really good. I'll definitely have to check it out!

  4. I loved this book too! great review, completely agree with you about the 'raw' part, and how in-your-face it is. :)
    And Liam is great because he's 'real', not perfect, which I loved. and I liked his Johnny Cash backstory... ;)


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