Review: Amplified by Tara Kelly


Amplified by Tara Kelly

The author of Harmonic Feedback returns with another book that centers around music.  Jasmine has decided that she doesn’t want to attend Stanford in the fall, so that she can follow her dream of becoming a musician.  She finds herself homeless when her father kicks her out for her decision.  Jasmine’s car breaks down in Santa Cruz.  She finds a listing for a place that she can almost afford but the kicker is that she needs to audition for a band and get picked as their guitarist in order to get the room.  All she has to do is convince three jaded, ultra-cool guys and one amazing girl that she can do it.  The problem is that she’s never played for anyone except her best friend.  Can Jasmine fool them all and for how long?

This book sings.  The character of Jasmine is complex, haunted, frigid, closed off, wide open, and entirely human.   The other band members are equally fascinating, often veering away from what you would expect from them, making them all the more intriguing.  Though it would have been easy to make Jasmine’s father a cardboard stereotype, Kelly didn’t.  One of the conversations with her father shows that both Jasmine and her father are trying yet unable to connect. 

Music is difficult to write about in novels, but Kelly manages to invite readers into a band, allow them to experience the hard work, the drive, the crap and the intensity of the relationships that music creates.  The music in this book is not subtle, this is not another book about a quiet pianist or violinist.  Instead this book thrashes and rocks. 

Impossible to put down, readers will thrum to the rhythm of disaster, recovery, lies and truth.  It is a compelling and remarkable combination.  Appropriate for ages 15-17.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Company.

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