cover image The Bad Decisions Playlist

The Bad Decisions Playlist

Michael Rubens. Clarion, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-544-09667-7

“I’m lazy, and I’m a coward, but I’ll do pretty much anything if a girl is watching.” With that opening line, Rubens (Sons of the 613) introduces goodhearted screw-up Austin Methune, who is in danger of failing 12th grade if he doesn’t pass summer school, but is otherwise occupied thinking about girls, weed, music, and his mother’s stuffy lawyer boyfriend, Rick. Further complicating Austin’s life are Josephine, the math tutor he’s hopelessly (in all senses of the word) in love with, and the alcoholic rock-star father he didn’t know existed, who is trying to make a comeback, both musically and with Austin’s mother. Austin has musical talent, too, but is terrified of success. Rubens has a great handle on Austin’s quick-witted, self-deprecating voice as he recounts one disaster after another, whether it’s destroying Rick’s $4,000 mandolin or falling down a hill on a commercial-grade lawn mower while trying to pay Rick back for said mandolin. Funny and painful, it’s a sharply etched portrait of fallible human beings living, loving, screwing up, and making do—and a fine look at the Twin Cities music scene. Ages 14–up. Agent: John Silbersack, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)