Rock’N’Roll in Locker Seventeen, by Shannon V. Brown, is a great book for teenage boys and girls, their parents, and yes, their grandparents, too. Why? Because Ms. Brown’s first book has cross-generational appeal. It harkens back to the days when rock and roll ruled – those golden days of yesteryear. It has humor and piques one’s interest, plus it is replete with musical and musician references (which I loved and hope you will, too.) Siblings will enjoy the banter between Steven and his bright younger sister, Jeanne. Parents will commiserate with Steven’s parents, Ellen and Jack White, having to raise two teenagers at the same time in a small Mid-Western town. While grandparents will rise above it all, but enjoy the journey back in time to a somewhat simpler period.
The story begins with seventeen year old Steven White obsessing about his rock and roll idol, Ricky Stevenson, who mysteriously disappeared thirty years ago, but left a wonderful musical legacy. Yes, it is a mystery, even though the clues are laid out pretty clearly for us to figure out even before Steven does. We follow Steven through his rather ordinary mid-1990s life – at home, at school, hanging out with friends, shopping at the local Thrift Shop – where he buys vintage clothes to perfect his “Ricky” image, and working part-time at his Dad’s temporary storage business. Steven longs for the rock star life of glitz and glamour and spends way too much time daydreaming about it.
Steven is a typical teen, alternately bored with his mundane life, and fascinated with the past – even learning to play the guitar like his missing “role model,” rock legend, Ricky Stevenson. Ms. Brown’s use of sarcasm, wit, and humor through Steven’s comments and thought processes will have you chuckling, and happily turning pages to see what he’ll come up with next. In addition to the mystery and rock and roll appreciation, there are plenty of lessons here for everyone to take away. And lots of daily machinations that teens are famous for: should I do this? What should I be when I grow up? Can I trust this friend/adult? What’s right? What’s wrong? Is the grass greener on the other side? What if??
In checking Ms. Brown’s website, (http://www.locker17.com), I was delighted to see that there is a Prequel and a Sequel to Rock’N’Roll in Locker Seventeen in the works. It will be great fun to revisit Steven and his family – and journey once more into their past and forward into the next chapter. I can hardly wait to see if it will be another mystery or a slice of life in the teen world. I’m sure it will be enjoyable, humorous, and positive. Rock'N'Roll in Locker Seventeen is available from Amazon.com.
Note to parents/teachers: I found the book to be between categories: late middle-grade to early young adult (some teen drinking, unsupervised parties, some “truth withholding” and actual lying.) There no violence to speak of, drug use is referenced in the past, no sex scenes (some magazines referenced.) All in all, it is generally a good read for late middle grade students through high school.