Thursday, August 11, 2011

Up and Coming: Paradise by Jill S. Alexander

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander

Alexander is also the author of Sweetheart of Prosper County (see our review here) and Paradise is set in the same world (or county, as it were) as the first book. It was fun to jump right back into Texas.

Paisley can keep the beat no matter if you're playing Guns and Roses, Lynyrd Skynyrd, blue grass or the Avett Brothers. She has drumsticks in her pockets at almost all times and her fingers are constantly keeping time. The girl has rhythm in her blood. But her mother believes strongly that being in a band is the first stop on the road to moral degradation that will keep Paisley in Prosper County forever and never reach her dreams for her.

In fact, this is what her mom believes about the things her sister is passionate about (doing hair and makeup) too. So both she and Lacey are forced to keep their cards close to their chests if they are going to keep doing the things they love to do. This means that Lacey pretends she likes singing in pageants and at Rodeos because that's what her mom wants her to do and Paisley pretends to be cleaning her uncle's house once a week, when instead she's practicing with her band in his airplane hanger.

This is no fly-by-night teen band either. The Waylon Slider Band is serious stuff and if they can only get a singer who can pull his weight, they may be Paisley's ticket to Texapalooza and from there, who can stop her?

In walks Gabe, the only rodeo-ready, squeeze box playing singer any of them have ever seen. Is he their ticket to greatness? Or is he only interested in making a name for himself? And most importantly, is he going to mess up Paisley's plans to play the good girl in her mother's eyes so that she can even have the chance to rehearse for Texapalooza?

This is a book with a band, it's definitely in the venn diagram of stuff we like on this blog a lot.  But there are a couple things that make it special. First of all, The Waylon Slider Band is a country band and a band where the members who have grown up in houses where it's normal to have an uncle who plays fiddle and a church pastor who writes the music to his hymns and plays them on guitar.  Secondly, just like in Sweetheart of Prosper County, Paisley's story is just one of the many rich ones that fill this book. Each of her band members has a personality (and I loved that Cal's lyrics began each chapter) and her sister is not just a caricature, but someone that you hope things work out for. And then there's the ending, which I won't talk about except to say that I didn't see it coming. Which is not something that always happens in a book like this.

Final thoughts? The cover... There is a lot more going on here than just a teen romance. Pick it up if you like romance, but also if you like band stories, contemporary fiction, stories of life in the south, family stories or even just books that might make you need a Kleenex or two.

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