Thursday, August 23, 2012
Every graduation ceremony is littered with students who feel obligated to make their parents happy, have their fleeting moment of freedom cut short by obligations, and are wildly unsure of themselves. If you show me a new graduate who has a clue what they want to do with their lives, I will show you someone who is delusional! In Tara Kelly's Amplified, we get a glimpse into the life of a young woman who is in the middle of figuring out what she really wants to do, even if that means her father kicks her out of the house.
Jasmine Kiss (yes that's her real name) may not have ever played in a real show or in front of anyone, but she considers herself a musician. She has used every penny she ever saved to buy her equipment, and even though her only shows are for her best friend in the garage, she knows she has to spend her life playing music. The problem is her father has other ideas about what she should be doing with her time- namely, college. When Jasmine refuses to go to college right away, her dad kicks her out and tells her to make it on her own. For a girl form the rich neighborhood, being homeless and broke are new experiences.
When Jasmine finds an add for a guitarist similar to her style, but they are only looking for guys. Since the gig comes with housing, Jasmine takes a chance anyway. She instantly likes Veta, the perky, angsty singer, but Sean, Veta's rude brother is a whole different story. When they agree to let Jasmine join the band (albeit reluctantly for some members), they have no idea that she has never played a show or been part of a band before. With the band, C-Note's, rising success, the next few shows are going to make it or break it for them, and Jasmine's complete lack of experience could do them in completely.
Jasmine was a strange mix. She was strong enough to stand up to her father, get kicked out of the house, and even sleep in her car until she hooked up with the band. But then you put her onstage and she becomes a shy little mouse who can't even do what she loves. And quite frankly, that was tough for me to understand. A girl who has enough guts to abandon her cushy life and live in her car should be able to get up in front of five people and play the guitar (the packed club I understand, but she could barely even try out!). But the supporting characters were a decent addition. Not everyone in the band was sold on Jasmine, which made the dynamic more realistic and believable. I had a tough time even liking Sean, Jasmine's love interest, because he was such a toad most of the time. Yes, it sucks your girlfriend cheated on you with your best friend and broke up your band, but what the heck does that have to do with this new girl who might save your flippin' band, dude? Lighten up! Sean just didn't really do it for me.
The story, however, was much more interesting than any individual character (although I loved Veta). I love the idea of abandoning your parents' expectations and taking some risks in order to do something that makes you happy. By this age our kids are so influenced by everyone around them, it was enlightening to see a young girl who simply couldn't pretend anymore. She knew she wanted to play, and there was nothing that was going to stop her (except stage fright, perhaps). So this isn't a bad story for young adults, but it might be particularly good for that rebellious young woman who needs to recognize rebellion for a cause, not rebellion for the sake of annoying people. And anyone interested in music will enjoy the detailed descriptions of the band's songs- pretty powerful!