Full disclosure: I’m 45. I’m far from a young adult, ergo, reviewing a YA book should probably be taken with a pound of salt. All of that said, I was more than happy to review my friend, Tara Kelly‘s latest book, Encore. I originally knew Tara as Miss Volatile from collaborating with her musically online. We worked together with Israeli darkwave musician, Skiza on Butterfly Dance, with Canadian electronic artist, Acumen on Gravity, Our Enemy, and she supplied a short vocal sample (I messaged her with a request to record herself saying “Oh My God” like she had just found a dead body in the woods… you know, typical recording request) for my song, Sugar Spider.
Since making lots of weird music, Tara went on to be a fairly accomplished YA author. Her first book, The Foxglove Killings was a Junior Library Guild Selection for December 2015. Her second effort, Amplified, introduced the character, Jasmine Kiss, and went on to win an Oregon Spirit Book Award, ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year, and named a Cybils Awards Finalist.
Encore, finds the band, C-Side about to embark on a risky, but once in a lifetime tour supporting a bigger name act. Jasmine Kiss is the 17 year-old lead guitarist with a strained relationship with her father, that really wishes she would skip the band and go to college. The journey leads the band into inner-strife, intra-band-romance, and even some life-threatening situations.
I couldn’t help but notice the parts of Tara that she writes into Jasmine – I remembered Tara asking me about my own Paul Reed Smiths, when she was about to get her own purple-sparkle PRS (just like Jasmine plays in C-Side). That said, I hope the self-entitled attributes of Jasmine aren’t true of my friend, there were points in the story that I wanted the tour bus to crash.
Encore is a quick read, for sure. The dialog moves the story along effectively, and I really appreciated the book tackling tolerance of LGBT lifestyles, body image issues for young women, and cyber bullying. To any parents considering this for your own YA reader, be sure to make yourself aware there are some adult themes in the book.
For a “quick read,” Encore has deceptive depth. I think my friend has created some characters that should provide interesting stuff for her readers for many books to come.