If Life Was Like a Song
Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.”
Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer.
Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..
Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.
I have a peanut allergy and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the main character also had a peanut allergy. Thus I was intrigued in My Year of Epic Rock. I wanted to have some kind of representation for once – I am not anaphylactic though, which the main character is. Another part that intrigued me was that a group of children decide to start a rock band.
It meant so much to me to read about a character who worries about what’s in her food when she’s out of the house. Sometimes people forget, sometimes they act all angry and annoyed when you mention you have to be careful. Sometimes you yourself forget because you are so used to eating the nut-free version, that you forget that the more common version has nuts in it. These experiences were mirrored by the ones that Nina had in the book.
I liked the humour that was interspersed throughout the book. Nina uses a lot of dry humour which is right up my street.
The rock band was a great storyline. I was so invested in the band and I wanted them to really rock the show at the end of the book. The other storyline was way more sad. When your friendship starts to tear apart, and your former best friend leaves you for someone else – I’ve been there. However, the story shows that the world isn’t going to end just because your friendship is over. Life goes on and you will find friends who support who you are. Nina was becoming more and more confident through the book, and I was so emotional when she started to believe in herself.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the mother, as I felt that she would often use her daughter for her job. The mother never wondered whether Nina was happy with having to try all of the allergy-free recipes or whether she was comfortable being used as promotional material. I really wish that this would have been discussed in more detail in the book.
At time I thought that the book focussed a bit too much on romance. Considering that the premise of the story was a broken friendship, I was disappointed that friendship was not a more central theme to the story. Especially, towards the end, the friendships were mentioned less and less, and the love interest was mentioned more and more.
My Year of Epic Rock is a nice middle grade novel. I felt that it could have focussed a bit more on the friendships that Nina had been developing through the school year.
Trigger warnings: ableism, panic attack.
Have you read My Year of Epic Rock? How did you enjoy it?