Monday, January 26, 2015

Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse Some comments

Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse
Caribbean Reads Publishing, 2014

Just finished reading Musical Youth, 2nd place winner of the inaugural 2014 Burt award for YA literature at the Bocas Festival in Trinidad

 I give it an A+ for (among other things) capturing in a very interesting way the tentative attraction and growing relationship of boy and girl in the teen years, as well as affirmation of how friends can help one another over some of the uncertainties and humps of those turbulent years. 

The music references and the summer preparation for a major musical performance by the teens, with all the attendant near failures and individual anxieties and successes for the characters, should make it compelling reading for the target age group. 

The message that youth do not have to discard the old (music), but understand, transform and utilize it to enrich their own expressions is refreshing. 

The youth in the story, set in Antigua, draw on the musical influences from world cultures to make something uniquely theirs and that is what the Caribbean is (or should be) about.

The characters, both young and old are very true to life – from the main characters, teens, Zahara  and Shaka and his Crew, to the grandparents and other adults in their lives. 

The story is modern; the teens are technology savvy. A discussion about skin shade, what is considered beauty and attractive to the opposite sex is central to the story. The characters are forced to face this continuing enigma in the Caribbean consciousness head on. Some of them come to realize the uniqueness and value of individuals quite apart from skin colour.

Some very important themes are explored in this book. Get a copy. You will be entertained. Buy one for a teen in your life.
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