July 25, 2014

For What it's Worth by Janet Tashjian

Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles (part of Reed's community) was a music hot bed in the 60's and 70's from Carole King, Frank Zappa, James Taylor, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Joni Mitchell, to the Mama's and the Papa's, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the Doors. Add to this the changing social mores, and the Vietnam War, and you have a novel centering around Quinn, a middle schooler who, growing up in Laurel Canyon, is addicted to knowing everything about the music of the period.

Quinn writes a column about music in his school newspaper, and has recently formed a band. He meets Caroline who is new to L.A. and is fascinated by the culture and lifestyle. Playing on his Ouija board, he starts getting cryptic messages from the 27 Club...musicians such as Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison that died too early at the age of 27... which Caroline suggests they turn into a money making venture. Add to this, a draft dodger friend of his sister whom he is secretly assisting, his first relationship with a girl, and the deteriorating marriage of his parents, and you have a story that tries to do too much.

Despite the weak story, I enjoyed the book. Growing up in this era, the book brought me back to my teen age years. The book is filled with music trivia, each chapter beginning and ending with a list, such as best album covers, or facts that quite honestly had me going to iTunes or putting on an old album to listen to music I haven't heard in years. My question was, how would young readers relate to this, with no real knowledge or experience in the time period? To my surprise, those that read it enjoyed it, but not for the story... they too had their headphones on, searching and listening to the music!
Reed Reads Score: 3.5

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