Thursday, July 05, 2018

Confusion is Nothing New

Acampora, Paul. Confusion is Nothing New
May 29th 2018 by Scholastic Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Right before a marching band performance is not a great time to be told that your mother has passed away, even if you have never met her, so it's understandable that Ellie is a bit peeved with her father. When her best friend Daniel has a mishap with his piccolo during and ends up hitting Ellie in the head with the instrument and then losing it under the bleachers, the two friends don't take kindly to being yelled at by their band director, Mr. DeGroot. Things escalate, and Ellie throws her school glockenspeil at the teacher. A classmate, Anya, has videotaped the whole thing, so after talking to the school principal, Sister Stephanie (who went to school with Ellie's parents), Ellie and Daniel hunt her down to get her to take the video offline. It's bad enough that DeGroot was fired and Ellie has to pay for the instrument, without the video going viral! Sister Stephanie's brother, who is a rock musician who's had some success, fills in for the fired band director. Ellie wants to know more about her mother. She's not getting information from her father, a cook at the local college who wants to have his own food truck, because he is still hurt and angry, but she manages to find out quite a lot about her mother with the help of her friends. Her mother's band, Cyndi Lauper Isn't Dead, is coming to the university, and Ellie looks at this as an opportunity to get to know a little about the mysterious woman who gave her life, big feet, and frizzy hair.
Strengths: Acampora's Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face and How to Avoid Extinction do very well in my library, so I am really looking forward to having this one on the first shelf of fiction! This is funny, fast paced, and very upbeat considering the major plot of the deceased mother. I thought the father's seemingly callous attitude toward the mother was realistic but also well explained in the end, and Ellie's emotions about her death were convincing as well. I appreciated that Acampora utilized Lauper and other 1980s women's rock bands in a fun way AND explained the time lines so they fit Ellie's parents appropriately. The friend group and the way they helped Ellie was sweet. There were a lot of supportive and involved parents as well.
Weaknesses: Since the characters are all freshman in high school (Hooray! This is what middle school students want!), the adults seemed a little TOO involved.
What I really think: There need to be more middle grade novels with classic rock songs as the titles. I don't know how much it would amuse the target demographic, but it would make a whole lot of middle aged librarians happy! Definitely purchasing.
Ms. Yingling

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