For What It's Worth

248p. Holt. July 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9365-0; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9633-0.
Gr 7 Up—Set in the music mecca of Laurel Canyon, CA, in the early 1970s, this story chronicles Quinn's struggles with the insecurities and nuances of adolescence as he navigates painful discoveries about the times in which he resides. It is first and foremost a well-written, sensitive coming-of-age story. The 14-year-old lives and breathes rock 'n' roll and his candid, self-deprecating narrative is interspersed with the incredibly detailed music columns and lists that he writes for the school newspaper. When Caroline becomes his first girlfriend, no one is more surprised than Quinn. Tashjian is spot-on as she describes the boy's growing awareness of the world, developing understanding of his parents as people, and awakening to varied injustices. She masterfully focuses on the teen's personal journey from a one-dimensional rock-music addict to a young man trying to cope with bigger issues. Up to this point, Quinn's worldview has been focused like a laser beam, but outspoken discussions initiated by one of his teachers awaken him to awareness of the Vietnam War, as does Caroline's sadness when her brother is drafted. When Brett, a draft dodger and a friend of his sister, shows up, Quinn takes courageous risks to help Brett make it to Canada. He creates Club 27 and uses a Ouija board to seek advice from Janis Joplin and other rock musicians who oddly and coincidentally died at the age of 27. Tashjian's talent for characterization is evident throughout, most notably in Quinn. Fans of Blake Nelson's Rock Star Superstar (Viking, 2004) should enjoy this quirky, absorbing book.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
In 1971 Los Angeles, fourteen-year-old Quinn spends his days listening to albums, writing a music column for the school newspaper, and trying to spot his idols around town. But current events--and his first girlfriend--disrupt his comfortable routine. The book offers interesting historical perspective, but its plot is disjointed and the plethora of period musical references may lose some modern readers.

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