You are probably not going to have a summer job as surreal or as cool (or as potentially corrupting) as Leo Caraway’s (not unless you have just discovered that your dad is the lead singer of the world’s most popular punk rock band and you are about to be his roadie for a cross-country tour, in which case, good luck to you). For those of you stuck with work at the other end of the excitement spectrum, you’ll be happy to hear that if you read Gordon Korman’s hilarious Born to Rock, you’ll score all the laughs of life on tour and none of the hearing loss.
Leo Caraway is all set to embrace his perfectly-planned future. He was president of the Young Republicans club, a model student, acceptance to Harvard in hand. Then two things happen that send this plan off the rails. First, he comes to the aid of a kid who he doesn’t even like very much, gets accused of cheating on a test, and before he can say “That’s not fair” his scholarship to Harvard is revoked. As if anything could be more disturbing, next he finds out his biological dad is King Maggot, the lead singer of Purge, the legendary punk band. This disturbing revelation quickly becomes Leo’s best hope for finding his way back to the Ivy League. He decides to accept a job as a roadie for Purge’s summer revival tour, expecting that he will “bond” with the King, and convince him to pay his tuition for the fall. It’s not long before Leo realizes that the road is an even stranger and more surprising place than he had imagined it would be. Much hilarity ensues.
To begin, yes, this book is every bit as rad as it cover. This needed to be said. The punk baby is funny and all that, but the book is even funnier. Allow me to quote from the prologue. (Warning: do not read this next bit while consuming liquids as said liquids will likely spew out of your nostrils due to wild laughter).
“The thing about a cavity search is this: it has nothing to do with the dentist. If only it did. They can give it polite names, like “additional inspection” or “supplemental investigation.” But the fact is, you’re bent over, grabbing your ankles, while some total stranger has his fingers in a very private place where nobody should be rummaging around. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t scar you for life. You don’t suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. But no one who has been through it is ever quite the same again. The experience is just – big.”
A laugh-out-loud moment before you’ve even turned the first page automatically gives a book big extra points for me. You’ll keep on laughing too. I am a big Gordon Korman fan. The man writes snappy books, with well-conceived premises, vivid characters and heart. What else is there, really? There’s a little romance, a few “life lessons” (not of the heavy-handed variety) and some particularly memorable comic scenes. Who knows? It may make you want to try to rock a mohawk this summer. Don’t miss Born to Rock. Laughs guaranteed. No tour bus necessary.
Born to Rock is published by Scholastic.
(This post is cross-posted at Guys Lit Wire).