03 November 2011

Book Banter -- How the Mistakes Were Made

Title: How the Mistakes Were Made
Author: Tyler McMahon
Length: ~350 pages
Genre: literary fiction
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: ARC from St. Martin's Press
Plot Basics: Musician Laura Loss was ready to put her career in rock bands behind her when she meets Nathan and Sean, two young, gifted and naive rockers. The two convince her to play drums for them at a gig, and The Mistakes are suddenly riding high into the early 90s grunge rock scene. Laura becomes somewhat of a matriarch to the fledgling band, while at the same time, striking up a relationship with Sean, the group's mega-talented guitarist. As the group's popularity grows, Sean's talent leads to self-destructive behaviors and Laura's efforts to keep the band together may either save or destroy them all.

Banter Points: Reading book is like watching a train wreck in the absolute best way possible.You know going in with a story about a rock band that the band is doomed to break up and the whole story is the build-up to that. It's so formulaic of a plot that at first, I wondered how in the world it was going to work.

Enter Tyler McMahon's prose and deftly created characters and use of flashbacks. Laura's voice as the maligned narrator was the compelling hook that got me to keep turning pages, as well as her flashbacks to the 1980s and her time in her brother's punk band. The stories parallel so well and you have to wonder as a reader if she will learn the lessons from the past or not.

Bummer Points: It's not really a happy-ending sort of book. To me, this is actually OK, but for some readers, the schmaltz-free ending could be kind of a bummer.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I'm predicting that How the Mistakes Were Made will be in my top 10 for this year, so you might want to check this one out.

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