Californium by R Dean Johnson (5 out of 5)

I saw this written up on under New Paperbacks. I had not heard of it but the bright cover, taking place in the 80’s, and about the birth of a high school punk band pretty much guaranteed I was going to read it. It did not disappoint! 

A coming of age story? Yes. Fun characters? Yes. Family troubles? Yes. Love of music and the decade of decadence? Most definitely. The hardest time I had with this was the silliest thing in the world. Our hero of the piece is named Reece. I kept picturing the “Reece” character from the TV show “Malcolm In The Middle” instead. That’s about the toughest patch of road to get past, and that was the unpaved tunnel in my mind. This book was a breath of fresh air. Reece has just moved to California with his family, and he is trying everything to fit in with the “cool”kids. That’s Keith, his friend who claims to know all, and Treat, a kid with a mohawk and a love of little known musicalia. Together, they start a punk band called DikNixon. Reece’s confidence and happiness soar to new heights with the band and the buzz begins to build. His parents are not at all happy with this development, and don’t hesitate to inform him. The night of their first gig, Reece’s family secrets crash and he begins to realize that his family’s home, secrets, and move to California are all highly suspect. Things change- friendships, possible romantic entanglements, family dynamics. And most alarmingly of all, the band and the members may not come out the same after all is said and done. This was such a fun book. It does bring you to the altar of nostalgia known as the 80’s, but it’s such a fun time that it just adds more to the fabric of the book. The band brotherhood between Reece, Keith, and Treat is a very real one, warts and all. Reece’s turmoil over which girl he likes the most is palpable at that age. There isn’t a false note in the book. Do yourself a favor and go read it. 


~ by generationgbooks on August 1, 2016.

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