cover image Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands

Edited by Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith. Candlewick, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1433-8

Edited by Smith (Don’t Read the Comments) and Gibaldi (This Tiny Perfect World), this entertaining collection of 16 interconnected contemporary tales centers a battle of the bands at a New Jersey high school. In “The Ride” by Jenn Marie Thorne, a girl dumps her narcissistic musician boyfriend, prompting her to step up and claim the spotlight instead, while in Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Love Is a Battlefield,” a bisexual competition judge juggles relationships with the lead singers of two different bands. Preeti Chhibber’s “Merch to Do About Nothing” features two Indian American teens running different merch tables who bond as the evening progresses, and in Lauren Gibaldi’s “Set the World on Fire,” a put-upon stage manager reacts to the events and chaos sparked by the bands. Other contributors include Brittany Cavallaro, Jay Coles, Motion City Soundtrack lead vocalist Justin Courtney Pierre, Sarvenaz Taghavian, and Jenny Torres Sanchez. Chronicling the breakups, make-ups, make-outs, and breakout performances of myriad intersectionally diverse teens, this anthology’s deliberate pacing allows each entry to stand on its own while harmonizing pleasantly with the larger melody of the night’s overlapping characters and events. Ages 14–up. Agent: Dawn Frederick, Red Sofa Literary. (Sept.)