You would be hard pressed to find a cleaner read on the YA shelves these days, but what I’m Glad I Did lacks in edge, it makes up for in engagement. The author is Cynthia Weil (you would recognize the songs she wrote), and I think she brings a real insider’s experience to this book. Carole King is the blurb on the front!
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sixteen year old JJ wants to be a songwriter in 1960’s New York, but comes from a family of lawyers who think the music business is bad business. When she lands a 3 month contract as a writer and assistant at a music company, she makes a deal with her mom and embarks on the beginning of everything she ever wanted until murder gets in the way. This was a nice, clean YA mystery with lots of interesting complications and characters. It is a book about family, secrets, and lies. I loved the setting and the way that the author incorporated the civil rights movement gently into a story about the musical world where race had already begun to be moot. It was an easy and fast read, and had a little of everything — romance, mystery, history. Themes of finding your voice, learning to forgive, and reaching for your dreams add a nice depth. My only reservation is the lack of edge — I kept waiting for the moment when the protagonist would experience real danger, and it just didn’t materialize. The language and situations are completely appropriate for all ages. There are always students looking for a book that is not “dark,” and that can be hard to find in the YA stacks these days.
This book is available in the MHS library.