Review of The Music of What Happens

The Music of What Happens
by Bill Konigsberg
High School    Levine/Scholastic    346 pp.
1/19    978-1-338-21550-2    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-21552-6    $10.99

In order to help his unstable mother make delinquent mortgage payments, Jordan tries his hand at the food truck business, using his late father’s old truck, Coq Au Vinny. Things don’t go too well until classmate Max happens by and agrees to take a summer job on the truck. Despite their differences — confident Max enjoys baseball and video games, while insecure Jordan likes musical theater and shopping — the two boys develop a friendship that quickly blossoms into a romance. As they work together on the truck in the boiling summer heat of Mesa, Arizona, and date each other in the evenings, each boy gradually reveals the depth of their relationship to supportive friends and family. One obstacle is that Max’s recent first sexual experience was nonconsensual, hindering his ability to be more physically intimate with Jordan. Then, too, Jordan’s mother has returned to her gambling habit, even as the boys make the truck financially successful. Like David Levithan and Adam Silvera, Konigsberg (Honestly Ben, rev. 3/17) portrays gay teen relationships in a way that is consistently authentic, compassionate, hopeful, and empowering; and this story, which also touches on issues of masculinity, homophobia, and rape, is no exception.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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