cover image The Music of What Happens

The Music of What Happens

Bill Konigsberg. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-338-21550-2

Konigsberg (The Porcupine of Truth) explores how conventional ideas about masculinity trap young men into believing they must act a certain way. Handsome, smart, and athletic, Max is good at a lot of things, in particular hiding his feelings and smiling through anything (“Warrior up,” his dad used to say). Shy, unathletic Jordan doesn’t have much to smile about: his father died, his mother is a mess, and they could soon lose their house. Both guys are 17 and go to the same school, but Jordan sees Max as just another “Dude Bro”: it never occurs to him that Max is gay, too. When Max ends up helping Jordan reinvent his father’s food truck business, the two become friends. Jordan can’t imagine that someone like Max could like him; Max struggles to face the truth about sexual violence that he experienced in the past. Both want their relationships with their friends to be more honest, but they don’t know how to change things. Konigsberg ups the stakes as the teens improve their food truck game, become more vulnerable (Max) and more confident (Jordan), and learn to ask for what they want, making for a fun, romantic, and moving novel. Ages 14–up. [em](Feb.) [/em]