Melissa only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But it turns out Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a quiet mouse. And now she and Olivia get to spend the next two weeks jamming beneath the stars at Camp Rockaway.
But this summer will be full of surprises that throw Melly’s life out of sync. Her parents just revealed that they’re splitting up. She and Olivia seem to be growing apart. And Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she really has what it takes to be a rock ‘n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?
This was such a sweet, and important story. I’ve been reading a lot of LGBTQ+ middle grade books lately; probably because I’ve recently started teaching a sixth grade class and it’s reminding me of how much I would have killed for a book like this when I was younger.
Melly was such an easy character to love. She was kind, and shy, and funny, and sweet, and I just wanted to wrap her up in a blanket and make her a hot chocolate. Luckily, she did get a few hot chocolate’s throughout the story, so that was wonderful. I really enjoyed how much Melly grew over the two weeks away on camp, but what I enjoyed most was that she didn’t drastically change. She always had a rebel girl inside of her, she just had to become confident enough to let her out.
And helping her out were some incredible friends; Olivia, Adeline, Toni, and Shauna. I liked that each of these girls had a distinct personality (I have to admit, I have a HUGE soft spot for Shauna, who was such a kick-ass feminist!) and a different relationship with Melly. I really enjoy reading about female friendships in Middle Grade and Young Adult books because too often there is just unnecessary drama, so this was lovely.
On top of adoring all of the characters in this, I also really liked the story. The different plot lines were all weaved in together really well, which was nice to read. I really sympathised with Melly in regard to her parent’s separating; how she eventually manages to deal with her feelings about this was beautiful. I also really, really enjoyed that this was set at a music camp! I love camps and I love stories about camp, and this was written so wonderfully.
And of course, I loved watching the relationship between Melly and Adeline grow. I found myself smiling stupidly at the book way too many times. The way they interacted felt so true for LGBTQ+ young teenagers, so that was great! But I also adored all of the reactions to their relationship; Melly’s best friend, Olivia, is the only one to appear a bit shocked at first (and of course, since she’s known Melly for years) but two of their other friends just comment on how Melly and Adeline make a lovely couple, and that’s it. There wasn’t a huge coming out moment; not even Melly coming out to herself, really. There was a little bit of internal dialogue where she wonders what liking Adeline means for her; does she still like boys? will she only like girls now? But she eventually comes to the conclusion that she likes who she likes, and right now, that’s Adeline. I’m a bit sick of LGBTQ+ books that are just focused on coming out, so I really enjoyed how simply and beautifully this one was done.
I also really enjoyed how Adeline was so confident in her own identity; she mentions having a crush on another girl last camp, which was a year prior to this story. I liked that she was so sure of who she wanted as twelve, and how there wasn’t a huge focus on questioning and figuring things out. I know that’s true for a lot of LGBTQ+ people, but it’s nice to read about characters that know exactly who they are sometimes.
All in all, I adored every word of this. I will 100% be recommending this to everyone I know who enjoys sweet wlw romances, coming of age stories, and camp stories. Even if you don’t usually read Middle Grade books, give this one a try, because it wasn’t juvenile at all, and could easily be read as a YA story.
Also, the music in this book was perfect. Such a great mix of different artists and genres and there was such a good focus on lyrics and the impact music has on the world and I just about squealed when they were playing Landslide, which I’ll always think of as a wlw song (thanks, Glee!).
I absolutely loved this novel, and I’m already looking forward to reading more by Lisa Jenn Bigelow!
Obviously, this book is about the relationship between a (unlabelled on page, so these are just my assumptions) bisexual girl and a lesbian girl. Many of the side characters- including the love interest!- are explicitly described as characters of colour as well, which is lovely.
6/5 stars, easily.