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Born to rock

by Korman


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Publishers Weekly :

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Every book should be this entertaining. Korman (No More Dead Dogs) hooks readers with a prologue in which Young Republican Leo Caraway teasingly relates that he's had firsthand experience of a "cavity search.... It has nothing to do with the dentist. If only it did." The set-up is brilliant because, as readers are about to learn, Leo is on the verge of graduating from high school with Least-Likely-to-Have-a-Cavity-Searched honors—early acceptance to Harvard and a full scholarship—until two wrenches are thrown into the works. He's accused of helping another student cheat on a test and, trolling the Internet, he learns the identity of his birth father. Leo loses his scholarship because of his ethics violation; Dad is none other than King Maggot, lead singer of Purge, the "punk rebel who defined 'attitude' for an entire decade." Hoping those 25 million CDs and vinyl records Purge sold during its heyday means the King has the resources to finance an Ivy League education, Leo signs on as a roadie for his aging father's comeback tour. His mostly PG tour of duty keeps this suitable for middle school readers. What makes the book irresistible is its well-crafted plot, full of fate-reversing twists and bountiful humor. This one enters the chart with a bullet: it has the goods to go platinum. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

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Gr 7-10–President of his high school's Young Republicans club and on a fast track to Harvard with a full scholarship, Leo Carraway finds his life turned upside down by two events. His unlikely best friend–a hip, nonconformist named Melinda, whose temperament, politics, and interests seemingly clash with his lifestyle–convinces him to help tutor a gay classmate. When the homophobic assistant principal observes Leo talking to Owen during a test, he accuses Leo of cheating and causes him to lose his scholarship. Then Leo learns, to his consternation, that Marion X. McMurphy (King Maggot)–the top punk singer of the 1980s with a reputation for destruction on stage and leader of the band Purge–is likely his biological father. He decides to confront King Maggot and get him to pay for his lost scholarship and joins the crew of roadies supporting the band on a summer revival tour. Leo is introduced to the decadent world of punk performers, production crews, agents, and groupies that confirms his dislike of the music, but at the same time, he re-examines his primary beliefs and principles and is fundamentally changed by his experiences. He and Melinda, who is spending the summer following the band, slowly realize that they have more in common than they had thought. At the end, Leo uncovers a surprise about his biological father and reflects on what this means to his life. Korman's story has an appealing narrative voice, sharp dialogue, and vivid characterization to portray Leo's coming of age.–Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego

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From BookList, March 1, 2006, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Gr. 7-10. "There are two kinds of people in this world--those who have had a cavity search, and those who haven't. This is the story of how I wound up in the wrong category." After Young Republican Leo Caraway discovers that his biological father is none other than millionaire King Maggot, lead singer of the punk band Purge, he accepts a roadie job on King's tour in the hope of securing sorely needed college tuition. Soon, coke-snorting musicians and on-the-make agents are assaulting Leo's traditional values at every turn. Still, he manages to keep his cool, until he uncovers a shocking truth about his bio-dad that leaves him questioning every principle he holds dear. Leo's journey to punk-rock appreciation is a sharply observed, original take on the tired "outsider looking in" cliche. Though predictable at times and a little too clean (since when are there no expletives in punk?), Korman's rock opus redeems itself with smartly written dialogue and a slow-burning romance between Leo and his best friend, Melinda.


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