Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Amplified" ~ Tara Kelly


This is the story of 17 year old Jasmine and her struggle to not only follow her dreams of playing guitar in a real band but of finding out who she really is apart from her controlling father.  She'll find the band but will she be able to convince them she has what it takes?  Will she be able to convince herself?

Jasmine quickly discovers the life of a true musician is a complicated one, especially when there are egos, reputations and even hearts to protect. If she can keep her focus on her dream and not let her own heart get distracted by a certain bass player she just might make her dreams come true and prove something to both herself and her father.

Being a music lover myself, I enjoyed how author, Tara Kelly gives the reader a backstage pass into the music world and we get to see the good, the bad, and the mundane.  Being able to experience the performance through the eyes of the characters whether it's hearing the roar of the crowd, feeling the guitar strings slide beneath your fingers or the dizzying high after a great show, Kelly's words put you right there.  She gives us a lesson in the technical side of band life too and had me asking myself, "Diezel?"  Wait, isn't that a type of gas or the name of some dude who drives cars in action movies?"  We're also given a glimpse into the disappointment of the music dream as what was "supposed to be" doesn't always equal "how it really is" as is evident when Jasmine has her meeting with Nile.    
Kelly's cast of characters are all full of raw emotion, giving them a real, authentic feel.  Jasmine is full of life and determination and doesn't give up easy.  When she bombs at her first live show, you feel all the pain, frustration and humiliation right along with her.  When she's trying to navigate her feelings for Sean, you get caught up in the emotion of falling hard for a cute boy for the very first time.  Each time she deals with her father, your heart breaks a little more for both of them but mostly for what he's missing out on.

Veta is a mix of nonconformity and immaturity. (Like a lot of teens) While she is fiercely protective of those she loves and loyal to her friends, she also doesn't hesitate to retaliate against those she feels have wronged her. (veggie smoothie anyone?)  Felix is a colorful character (literally) with his blue pigtails and pink tutus but he has the biggest heart of all of them and then there's Sean. (insert swoonish *sigh*)  At first glance, Sean appears to be the typical rocker boy with the all black clothes, funky hair, tats, piercings and 'tude, LOTS of 'tude but once he begins to let his guard down we see there's more to him than meets those amazing green eyes.  (not focusing on the abs, not focusing on the abs...)  He's thoughtful, caring, and also happens to be crazy smart! (There's nothing hotter than a cute boy with a brain.)

Most of these characters tend to live in the moment, not necessarily focusing on the consequences of their actions.  This isn't out of the norm for the average teen and certainly doesn't seem abnormal for band life either, however, there are extremes in every situation.  Jasmine's father imposing so many rules suffocates her but the life that Nile describes leaves very little accountability or boundaries whatsoever.  Zia, leader singer for "Luna's Temptation" attempts to give Jasmine advice about the industry telling her, "This business will devour you like an afternoon snack," she said, "If you're not ready for the fight of your" "Run like hell." (page 280)  With the odds stacked against her, now more than ever, Jasmine must decide whether to stay and fight for what she wants or pack up and go back to Daddy and the life he wants for her.

It's never easy to follow your dreams but as Jasmine discovers, sometimes following your dreams is the only way to really find the your way home.

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