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Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
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Ballads of Suburbia

by Stephanie Kuehnert

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12912143,445 (4.45)3
An aspiring film writer tells about her troubled teen years in the Chicago suburbs when she and her friends tried to escape the pain of their lives through rock music and drugs.

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Feel the same ( )
  jenniebooks | Apr 17, 2019 |
Man, it's just effed up. I cried like twice.
I've had a copy of this book for almost a year now, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. I've never done drugs and I don't drink; however, I'm surprised how I felt like I could relate to some of these characters in a way. And I think that there is something that everyone can relate to in these characters. I think Stephanie Kuehnert did a such great job on the characters and their stories.
Ballads of Suburbia is filled with friendships, anger, sadness, love, heartbreak and self-destruction. And in the end, even though it isn't a happily ever after story, there's still a bit of hope. It's the most real and rawest story I've probably ever read. ( )
  w0ven | Sep 7, 2011 |
I seriously loved I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone (review here), but my reaction after reading Ballads Of Suburbia makes Stephanie Kuehnert's debut a silly infatuation. Seriously. Stephanie has taken the rockstar elements of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and brought it to new heights in this latest release as her teenaged characters poured their heart and soul into music and drugs as a way to replace the hopelessness that they face every day. If I had to describe Ballads Of Suburbia using one word, it would be Raw with a capital R. Filled to the brink on emotions, I found the "ballads" (confessions) of each character powerful and believably honest.

Kara proves to be such a heartbreakingly shy main character who has to find her backbone and learn not depend on a razor blade, pot, parents, best friends who ditch you or don't take your side, and most importantly anyone with a Y chromosome (including those who say "I love you" but hurt you; and those who don't say it back when you do). It was rewarding to watch her gain confidence, then lose it, only to bounce back stronger, then lose it even harder, and finally finally manage to climb out from rock bottom.

What is more amazing is when I realized that her climb has only begun - she may have won the battle, but the war is far from over. Every day, every second, she has to make a conscious effort to not fall back into old patterns - and when she returns to her hometown, seeing her old friends up to their old tricks test her resolve.

Ballads Of Suburbia has a more serious vibe than I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, and it felt so beautifully real that I never knew what to expect, sometimes fearing that Kara was in way over her head, upset when the boys acted stupid (will they never learn?!), and holding my breath as life unfolded into utter chaos. Readers of the debut will surely find Ballads Of Suburbia to far exceed all expectations already set by I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and for the next Stephanie Kuehnert project (which, for the record, sounds amazing - and I love the working title: Anarchists, Soap Stars, And Regulars, though it will probably change).

The cover is a little quirky - that smile on the duck borders on Joker-spooky - but I think it totally goes well with the story since Kara and her friends frequently met at the park. Ironically, not to play on the playground, but play with other things of an addictive sort. If you feel like you don't know what the story is about from the cover or the book summary, don't be alarmed. Both are merely tips of the iceberg. To be honest, my own summary above hardly does Ballads Of Suburbia any justice. Trust me when I say that whatever you find within that iceberg will make you glad that you took that leap of faith!

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway!), Ballads Of Suburbia makes it official: Stephanie Kuehnert is a literary goddess of rock music and soul! ( )
  theepicrat | Nov 19, 2010 |
This by no means was an easy story to read. Kara's life is hard. She parties all night long. She does multiple drugs and drinks herself into a stupor. If your looking for a quick feel good read, skip this one. If you are looking for a real account of a troubled teenager, this is for you.

I bought this book because it was on everyone's 'Best of 2009' lists. So I knew that it was going to be good but at first I didn't see what all the fuss was about. It was not a book that I just had to sit down and read but I would find myself thinking about these characters while doing mundane tasks around the house. They slowly crept into my head until the second day of reading when they firmly wedged their selves in my brain and I could not stop reading.

I completely related to these characters. If I would have grown up in a different place, I think this totally could have been me. Which is a scary thought. Thank the universe that I grew up in the middle of no where! I did some bad things as a teen but nothing compared to Kara and her friends. I was too well-adjusted. My family was too involved in my life to let things like this happen. But I was angsty and depressed enough as a teen to connect with Kara.

This is a dark story. It's heartbreaking. I shed a few tears. It's powerful. This book could be anyone's anti-drug. It's beautiful. On top of all the disturbing actions it's really just about friendship and love. Everyone needs to feel like they belong. Like their family loves and understands them. That's what Ballads of Suburbia is really about.

Another thing to add to the list of things I loved about this book is, the music references. I was pretty young in the early to mid 90's but I had a big sister. So we watched MTV. We were huge fans of Nirvana and just about any other 90's rock band. I still listen to that music today. It totally shaped my taste in music. So I loved that their was mentions of all these bands that I love.

Overall this book is not for the weak at heart. It's a tough story. If you ever felt like you didn't belong as a teen, then you should read this. It's not a book that I will put on the self and forget about. It will definitely be in my head for a long time. It's been over a week since I finished the book and every time I pass by my bookshelf and see it I want to pick it up and start reading again. I see what all the fuss was about. ( )
1 vote PureImagination | Jan 20, 2010 |
I wasn't that crazy about this author's first book. I just didn't identify with the characters and felt that the changes in POV didn't mesh well. This book, however, was fabulous. It's been one of my favorites this year, and I highly recommend it. It has fairly mature subject matter for a YA book, but is a great and touching story for mature readers. I would recommend this for fans of Ellen Hopkins' books or just anyone who loves a good read. ( )
  LibraryBlondie | Dec 10, 2009 |
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