Alison Wright is the lead guitarist for the band Right Turn, which also features her brother Mitch, roommate Tony, and good friend Brian. Right Turn has made a name for themselves in the Chicago indie scene, but their college days are over and “adult responsibilities” are making it harder and harder to commit to practice and touring with only love of the music as a reward.
Right Turn’s album serendipitously ends up in the hands of Kristen Nichols, former child actress and current pop-country mega star. “K-Nic” is ready to debut a more grown-up sound, and she decides Right Turn is the perfect band to open for her 12-stop, intimate tour.
Can Right Turn take advantage of their last shot at making it big? How will Alison react when the person everyone thinks they know turns out to be something else entirely?
Ali is a recent civil engineering graduate by day and a tattooed rocker by night. She has serious skills and no shortage of attention from groupies. With her brother Mitch a perpetual adolescent, Ali feels the pressure to start her new engineering job and make her mom happy. But her heart lies with making music, and especially the thrill of performing live.
If you are thinking “K-Nic” sounds like a certain “T-Sw…”, then you are on to something. Kristen’s public image as a wholesome girl next door represents everything Ali isn’t, and the idea of actually liking Kristen would never cross Ali’s mind… until they meet. The real Kristen is a genuinely nice person with a genuinely huge talent. As Ali and Kristen spend more time performing together, hanging out on tour, and even writing music together, Ali finds herself with a very real crush on one Kristen Nichols.
The other members of Right Turn feel real and familiar. Anyone who has ever loved a certain kind of indie rock will recognize the easy, playful sexuality of Mitch Wright. Tony is great as the supportive best friend, and we see Brian struggle to balance his commitment to the band with work and family.
The Writing Style
Adrienne Marsh’s writing in this novel is so, so good. I particularly enjoy how fictional reviews or tweets are incorporated at the beginning of most chapters. These serve to brief the reader on the current tour location and on the public perception of Right Turn and Kristen Nichols.
The writing style is propulsive without being rushed. The backdrop of the 12-stop tour gives the effect of sand through an hourglass. I could feel the time these characters have left together slipping away.
One of the most impressive things about this book is that it manages to be scorching hot without being explicit. One of the scenes from The L Word that’s seared in my memory is when Bette has been working late and makes the questionable decision to give her hot student a ride home. The sexual tension in that car is simmering until Bette pulls the car over, simply says “Nadia,” and it boils over. Something similar happens when Kristen whispers “Break a leg, Alison” in Ali’s ear. Good grief.
Reading this novel made me feel like I was on tour with the characters. Adrienne Marsh uses actual venues (shout out to the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC!), and the bands cover real songs such as “Gigantic”. The whole thing transported me back to my younger days as a screaming fan taking my shirt off and dancing at a Garbage show. Some things I shouldn’t admit, but oh well.
I have two cons. The first is that it does not appear Adrienne Marsh has written another book, and that’s a real shame. The second is this is not a coming out story. That was not a big con for me, but it will be for some people.
If you are a fan of live music, and particularly of girls with guitars, then you will love this book. It is youthful, angsty, and masterfully written.
Excerpt from Some Part of Me is You by Adrienne Marsh
Kristen played the notes much more slowly than she’d imagined them, and even before she started singing, it made what had been a little frantic and dissonant in Ali’s head much more sensual. The way Kristen’s voice washed over the words, honeyed and warm in her lower register, really punched that vibe home, and Ali felt her pulse speed up even before the words she was singing registered.
I don’t know where this is going
But I’d follow you anywhere
When you’ve got that look in your eyes
That rakish smile, all devil-may-care
And I can almost taste it
How good it’s going to be when we finally get there
The words wrapped around the notes, Kristen hammering on and pulling off to a smooth, slow rhythm that made Ali’s hands dig into the couch cushions reflexively. This wasn’t K-Nic fare by any stretch. This was something that was written with the express purpose of seduction, and God, was it getting the job done.
Kristen was looking at the strings, which was the only thing that stopped Ali from panicking at how hard the want hit her. The chorus Kristen had written was all about someone, whoever she was singing to, taking her, and this wasn’t coy allusion the way Tonight’s the Night had been. She was straight-up telling someone to just…
Kristen let a last note ring and looked up, tucking her hair behind her ear. She didn’t say anything, just examined Ali’s face for a reaction, biting her own lip, which was what made the panic hit. Ali couldn’t remember the last time she had been this turned on, this unexpectedly, and was it obvious? Was it all over her face, which felt hot … or could Kristen see the way her pulse was thrumming in her neck?
She wasn’t responding quickly enough, and she knew it. But she didn’t think she could say anything that wouldn’t give her reaction up, and how could she possibly explain that away? Yeah, people had reactions to music, but not like this. Not unless they wanted to disappear backstage with the performer, and press them up against a wall to—
“That’s very … not you,” she said. Or croaked, really, feeling her cheeks heat up further.
Kristen’s expression was unreadable, as was her soft, “I guess I’ve grown up a little since I last wrote about… wanting someone.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781729262351
- Publisher: Indie author
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