The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg Book Review

Book Description

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk — to get the thing they want the most.

Review

TW: Sexual Assault, Rape, addiction, suicidal ideation, death of parent, homophobia, racism

This is not an exhaustive list of all the trigger warnings in this book, please check others reviews to see any that I may have missed.

Thoughts and Themes: This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while so I finally decided to pick up the audiobook to listen to it. I hadn’t heard much about this book so I was a bit hesitant to pick it up but I am glad that I decided to read it.

There was a lot in this book and I was worried at first that there would be too much going on at once. I was a bit worried that the ending would feel rushed because of how things played out but I was surprised that it didn’t. Something that I like about this book was that everything didn’t wrap itself up neatly and things didn’t finish perfectly for any of our characters.

I really liked the way that both Max and Jordan were able to have emotions and be messy and real with each other and those around them. I liked how this book first started as a book about two boys journeys on a food truck and it became alot more than a summer of selling food.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with the two main characters, Max and Jordan. I really enjoyed each of the characters that you get to meet and their development throughout the story.

One of the characters that really stood out to me whom I loved was Max’s mom. I loved the relationship that she has with Max and how she supports everything that he does. I love that she just seems to know what to say or what her son needs from her.

I really enjoyed the relationship that develops between Max and Jordan throughout this book. I like that they are unlikely to have met in the first place and they met by happen chance. I also really like how this book starts with them developing a friendship and how this turns into romance slowly throughout this book.

Writing Style: This book is written in first person and goes back and forth from Max and Jordan’s perspectives. I liked having this story be told in both of their perspectives because you get to see the thoughts that are running in both of their minds. I like that the story is told through both of their perspectives rather than an outside narrator because this lets our characters be messy.

Author Description

Bill Konigsberg was born in 1970 in New York City. Expectations were high from birth – at least in terms of athletics. His parents figured he’d be a great soccer player, based on his spirited kicking from inside the womb. As it turned out, the highlight of his soccer career was at Camp Greylock in 1978, when he was chosen for the Camp’s “D” team. There were only four levels. Bill played alongside the likes of the kid who always showered alone, the chronic nosebleeder and the guy with recurrent poison ivy.

Early in his life, Bill decided he wanted to be a disc jockey, a professional baseball player, or the Construction Worker from The Village People. None of these career paths worked out for him. Yet. He still holds out hope for a Village People revival and has set up a Google Alert in case it happens.

A B- student throughout high school, Bill was voted Most Likely to Avoid Doing Any Real Work In His Life by a panel of his dismissive peers. He proved them wrong with a series of strange-but-true jobs in his 20s – driver recruiter for a truck driving school, sales consultant for a phone company, and temp at Otis Elevators.

He moved to Denver in 1996 and was voted Least Stylish Gay Guy in the Metro Denver Area (including Loveland!) for each of the years from 1996-98. His fashion-free wardrobe robbed him of prospective dates countless times, as did his penchant for wearing a mustache that didn’t suit him.

He worked at ESPN and ESPN.com from 1999-2002, where he developed a penchant for sharing too much information about himself. That character flaw earned him a GLAAD Media Award in 2002, for his column “Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays.” That coming out essay made him a household name to tens of people across the country.

He continued oversharing in graduate school at Arizona State, where he added People Pleasing to his growing list of character defects and parlayed that into the title of Most Chill Teacher of freshman composition.

As a sports writer and editor for The Associated Press in New York from 2005-08, Bill once called his husband, who was at the time working a desk job, from the New York Mets dugout before a game. “I’m so bored,” Bill whined. He slept on the couch for a week after making that call.

He wrote a novel called Audibles at Arizona State, and sold that novel to Dutton Books for Children in 2007. His editor asked him to change the title so that it would appeal to people other than “football players who read.” The resulting novel, Out of the Pocket, received strong reviews from his mother, father, significant other and one girl who had a crush on him in high school. It won the Lambda Literary Award in 2009.

His second novel, Openly Straight, hit the bookshelves in late May of 2013. He describes the novel as “Twilight-like, only without vampires and wolves and angsty teenage girls. Also, set in an all-boys boarding school in Massachusetts. Otherwise, it’s like an exact replica.”

His third novel, The Porcupine of Truth, was released in May of 2015. He chose to put a porcupine in the title because this is America, and no one here knows what a platypus is. The novel won the Stonewall Book Award and PEN Center USA Literary Award.

Next came Honestly Ben, a companion book to Openly Straight. He wrote it so people would stop yelling at him about Openly Straight’s ending. Honestly Ben received three starred reviews and made lots of people swoon over Ben some more, which irks Bill to no end as Ben is loosely based on his husband, Chuck. No one seems to swoon over Rafe, who is loosely based on Bill. Harrumph, says Bill.

The Music of What Happens arrives in February of 2019, and it’s a romance between two boys, and it includes a food truck that makes cloud eggs. Bill has an egg phobia.

Bill currently lives in Chandler, Arizona, which is the thinking man’s Gilbert, Arizona. He has a husband who is clearly too good for him, and two cute dogs, Mabel and Buford, who complete him.

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