I am incredibly impressed with Bill Konigsberg, to say the least. The Music of What Happens is such a vast improvement from his previous work, feeling much more real than his other novels. While I enjoyed The Porcupine of Truth and Openly Straight duology, they felt trivial and juvenile when compared to the much more nuanced storytelling of Music.
To start with, I’m majorly biased in favor of Music as I majorly related to one of the main characters, Jordan, in a major way. Not only do we both have floppy dark hair, numerous pimples, and very little muscle mass, but his generally taboo femminity was refreshing. Jordan stayed the balance between an uber-feminine stereotype and a “normal” dude. Also, he called himself “the Wimpy Kid from the Diary of” and I felt that.
The dual voices in Music are masterfully done, Konigsberg proving his skills with characterization. While the writing wasn’t always *technically* amazing, the voices for Jordan and Max were wholly unique and easily differentiated. Both boys felt equally human and dramatic, relatable and fictional, but in a good way?
Overall, The Music of What Happens felt like a teenage romance actually meant for teenagers, raw and relatable while still staying enjoyable and sweet. Bill Konigsberg has stepped up his game, though I may just be saying that because they finally changed his cover style. Both Jordan and Max were real, whole characters that I’ve rarely encountered in YA or any genre. This book was light but grounded, happy but melancholy, and relevant all around.
Rating: five rickety food trucks/five
For Fans Of: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman, Bloom by Kevin Panetta