Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo by Andy Greenwald.
No one has ever gone broke underestimating the American teenager's capacity for angst--until now, perhaps, when, as Greenwald documents, the major commercial music purveyors pay scant attention to the youngsters buying hundreds of thousands of copies of albums by bands like Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard [Confessional], even though the rest of the music industry is in the doldrums. Those bands create a sort of personal music, low on bombast and the antithesis of overproduced; they aren't boy bands and Britney Spears knockoffs. Emo, as their music is known, combines the thoughtfulness of folk with the sensibilities and DIY ethos of punk. Emo bands appeal with introspective lyrics rather than the "see my clothes, see my butt" treacle major labels promote. Sailing under the hype radar, emo is the current manifestation of music that is perfect for the young; that is, unknown and inaccessible to adults. A valuable resource for young listeners and adults who want to know their music; get it before emo goes the corporate way of "alternative" rock.
Charmed Thirds by Megan Mccafferty.
This funny, sympathetic installment in Jessica Darling's story (Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings) picks up the summer after her freshman year at Columbia University. The precocious Jersey girl, now a savvy city slicker, has picked a major (psychology), landed an internship at a hip Brooklyn magazine and managed to stay together with her high school boyfriend, reformed bad boy Marcus Flutie, for the entire school year. McCafferty follows Jessica through three years of college, chronicling her academic and extracurricular endeavors, her romantic and financial woes, all in Jessica's frank, exuberant voice. While she kisses a Republican, lusts after hot Spanish grad student Bastian and ventures a clumsy hookup with dormmate Kieran, Jessica expends a lot of energy agonizing over her long-distance relationship with Marcus, now a student at an unaccredited Buddhist university in California. The snappy writing, au courant wordplay (e.g., Jessica affectionately dubs indie-rock boys "bright-eyed, death-cab cuties") and easy-to-relate-to plot turns will keep eager teens—and teens-at-heart—turning the pages, but designating a high school romance as the novel's primary engine leaves the story stagnant.
MODERATOR NOTE: This is actually a good book whether or not you've read the first two. I've only skimmed it, unfortunetly (damn you, finals!) but I look forward to being able to sit down and reading it in full. It's a light read and isn't one of those books that require full backstory in order to understand the plot. Excellent for beachside/poolside pasttimes. Also, we ended up with this book instead of the others in the series because I feel that, at this point, the third installment is closer- as far as demographic goes- to our current member list than any of the other (high school oriented) books. And this was rather long winded. My apologies.