cover image The Haters

The Haters

Jesse Andrews. Abrams/Amulet, $18.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2078-9

After meeting at jazz camp, what might be the world’s worst musical trio decides to ditch the camp and go on a road trip, determined to play at any venue that will have them. Teenage best friends Wes (bass) and Corey (drums) join up with a mercurial, dynamic girl named Ash (guitar) and head out on the highway, aiming for adventure but finding wacky hijinks and weird people. There’s yelling, bad decisions, marijuana-fueled interludes, impromptu jam sessions, and way too much caffeine and junk food, and it all comes to a head when they realize it’s time to face the music. Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) loads his gonzo road trip with offbeat humor, philosophical musings, and musical references and debate, augmenting the narrative with fake Wikipedia entries, flashbacks, and screenplay-format exchanges. Wes’s narrative voice is casual and believable, and while not all of the stylistic quirks pay off (such as an extended “drug experience gone wrong,” as Wes puts it), but as a love letter to music and following one’s dreams, it’s just right. Ages 13–up. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris Endeavor. (Apr.)