You’re the Kind of Girl I Write Songs About by Daniel Herborn
Published May 1, 2015 by Harper Collins AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: Tim’s a young singer-songwriter with a guitar case full of songs and dreams of finding an audience to embrace his tunes.
Mandy’s obsessed with music and a compulsive dreamer. She’s longing for something more fulfilling than daytime TV and cups of tea with best friend Alice, something like the excitement and passion of rock ’n’ roll.
When their eyes meet at a gig, sparks fly across a crowded room and hope burns in their hearts.
But in a city of millions and a scene overrun with wannabes, can they ever get it together? Will Mandy’s nerves doom their romance before it even starts? And where does the darkness in Tim's songs come from?
This is a story of Sydney's Inner West, of first love, crush bands and mix tapes; of the thrill of the night and what happens when the music stops.
Daniel Herborn’s debut novel, You’re the Kind of Girl I Write Songs About, is the story of Mandy and Tim, two teens living in Sydney’s Inner West. Mandy lives at home with her older sister, her father, and step-mother. She took a year off after finishing high school but so far all she’s done is sleep, watch lots of daytime tv, and work at a local cafe. Tim lives has always wanted to be a musician. He’s currently living with his uncle, writing songs, and playing any gig he can, which is how he meets Mandy.
Mandy is someone I’m sure a lot of us can relate to, whether we’re a teen or an adult. Her summer is not going how she thought it would, she feels restless, as if she’s waiting for something, but she doesn’t know what. She loves music and it is one thing that gets her out of the house, that and hanging out with her best friend, Alice.
To begin with there's a bit of mystery with Tim’s story as he’s repeating Year 12 and it’s clear something happened in the previous year, plus his parents are absent from his life. He loves how music allows you to reinvent yourself, and how you can convey things in songs that you’d never say aloud.
I was expecting a lot from this book, it’s Aussie YA and set in my city, but unfortunately I didn't love it, instead I felt disconnected, though on the whole it’s not a bad book.
The chapters are very short and that was off-putting, I found it a hindrance in getting to know both Mandy and Tim. The mystery surrounding Tim’s life turned out completely different to what I was expecting and I didn't believe the resulting change in dynamic between Mandy and Tim. There is also insta-love and while it’s not as over-the-top as in some other YA novels, Mandy and Tim do seem to think that their relationship has been through a lot when in actual fact it’s been a very short amount of time and nothing very dramatic happened to them.
This book is a lovely ode to Sydney, to its music scene, and the suburbs of the inner west. The descriptions of summer evenings in the city were spot on, and there are a lot of bars, clubs, and suburbs mentioned, as well as a lot of music references from so many decades and genres that I don’t think they’ll date the book.
I get quite excited at the prospect of new Aussie YA, and while this didn't quite deliver, I’d still recommend it to contemporary YA fans.
Thank you to Harper Collins for my review copy.