YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park….

Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

I am unsure how much I like this book. It took me a long time to read this, maybe it was the drugs that made me a little uneasy. I’m not going to lie, the drugs made me hesitant to read Ballads of Suburbia. I have to make this clear first, I think only people above 15 should read this book. Or if you are 14 years old and mature and think you can handle serious subjects like drugs, booze etc then go ahead and read it. Frankly speaking, I have never smoked/did drugs/done anything illegal, so reading this book was disturbing to me but these things happen to teenagers. There are teens out there who are experiencing what Kara experienced. And if you experienced these before, some scenes would be distressingly familiar. So I definitely do not regret picking up this book. One word to describe Ballads of Suburbia, incredible.

Kara is imperfect character but you will learn why she does things throughout the book. Before long you will swept up into a whirlwind of drugs, booze, and the choices and mistakes Kara and her friends make when growing up. I really felt sorry for Kara’s brother Liam, his journey growing up was a painful heartbreaking one. Kuehnert does a fantastic job of capturing the point of views of the different characters. Maya’s ballad was a very sad one especially after what happened. Everyone’s ballads explain why they grew up and became who they are. I found that incrediblely touching and it helps readers comprehend why some characters behave a particular way.

Fans of Ellen Hopkins will love this painfully honest, intense, heart-wrenching book. Ballads of Suburbia is one of the most raw, realistic books I have read. Stephanie Kuehnert has written an amazing book that did not have a fairytale ending but it gives the readers hope. I see many wonderful future novels written by her.

Gold star (4.5/5 stars)


Comments on: "Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert" (11)

  1. I am dying to read this, I think the only hesitation of this book, is the price tag, I honestly have no probleam paying 19$ for a hardcover, but this is a paperback book. I will buy this, eventeally, but IMHO, your review just bumped it to lower on the To Be Bought list, and even farther on the TBR list.

  2. I had read a lot of positive reviews about this book and like you I wasnt too sure about reading it because of the drug aspect. I might check if my library has a copy instead of going out and getting a copy.

  3. I LOVED this book. It is amazing… even though I didn’t think I would like it because of its aspect.


  4. This book isn’t my usual type of book, but I cannot wait to get my hands on it! Between it being so musical and all of the rave reviews I’ve read about it, I’m dying over here!

  5. I’ve never done drugs, smoked nor do I even drink alcohol… but I do enjoy reading intense books (like this one sounds) and really being sucked into an emotional whirlwind story. It really makes you appreciate things in your own life and open your eyes to what others are experiencing in the world. I really want to read this – great review!

  6. Oh, great review! I saw it at the bookstore yesterday and hesitated… now I wish I hadn’t! I definitely love intense stories, and this sounds like one.

  7. The music theme sounds pretty interesting but I’ve had my serving of intense books for the moment with Go Ask Alice.

  8. Jennifer L said:

    Picked this one up at ALA, too! (Did you go to ALA?) I have her other book, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, which I got at the same time. I don’t often read non-genre (fantasy, horror, SF, mystery) books, but this just looked cool.

  9. I hadn’t heard of this book before, but it sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the review.

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