When Katy's mother leaves for an archeological expedition, the Canadian teen is sent to live with her father-a legendary punk rock drummer and recovering drug addict nicknamed The Rat-in Los Angeles. Katy knows she is "incurably uncool," and does not connect with her father's lifestyle or his music; it's Lake, the daughter of the lead singer in her father's band who calls her "beige," a nickname Katy adopts. But she slowly finds a place in their world, affecting them with her kindness and "learning to be loud" so she can release some of her bottled anger. The plot holds few surprises: she gets to know her father-who really does try hard to understand her, even after she tells him "I guess I don't really like music that much"-and she begins to see another side of her mother, who was also an addict. Castellucci (The Queen of Cool) has rendered Katy as a believable character, and teens will sympathize with her as she finally starts to reveal her true feelings. The book seems scripted at times, but readers will certainly learn something about the history of punk music and, like Katy, can consider what it means to "live on [one's] own terms without conforming to society's expectations." Ages 14-up. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT - Myrna Marler
This book starts off slowly as 14-year-old Katy deplanes at LAX from Montreal. She's meeting her father, a famous drummer named Rat from the band Suck, while her mother is on an archeological dig in Peru completing work for a doctorate. She's supposed to stay only two and a half weeks, and she's counting every day. Katy and her mother have always been a team. Plus, Katy is a nice, polite girl, a good student, smart, and not at all interested in music. She likes to read. Her father, when she meets him, turns out to be 6' 5" tall, kind of greasy and dirty, obsessed with drumming, and a reformed heroin addict. He can't understand anyone who isn't interested in music. Katy's bad situation gets worse when her mother calls to say she's staying the entire summer. Now the pace picks up, and Katy must cope with the weird and selfish "friend" her father hired to keep her company (another musician who calls Katy "Beige"), a stray skateboarder, the handsome boy in the next apartment, and her dad's new girlfriend. It takes a while for Katy to find her voice and to learn to communicate with these people and for the even bigger surprise that awaits her at the end of summer. This is a story about being flexible, growing up, and being true to one's self. It's a good read and an interesting look at the world of punk and alternative rock.
VOYA - Amy S. Pattee
Fourteen-year-old Katy is not happy when she is sent to stay with her estranged father in Los Angeles while her beloved mother attends an archeological dig in Peru. Although her parents were once part of the debauched Los Angeles punk scene, Katy's mother cleaned up when she discovered that she was pregnant and distanced herself from this part of her past. The Rat-as Katy's father is known-eventually cleaned up as well and now has high hopes for the comeback of his band, the legendary Suck. Katy is initially disgusted by her father's friends, his dingy surroundings (his apartment is in a complex known as the "Grunge Estates"), and is frightened by his band's music. In comparison to The Rat and his colorful friends, Katy feels "beige." Each chapter of the first-person story is named with the title and artist of a seminal punk classic (chapter one is "Los Angeles X"), which seems to either assume a reading audience of the already initiated or predict Katy's eventual acceptance of "the scene." The story moves quickly, and although some of the more intriguing details of Katy's mother's punky past are hinted at but never fleshed out, the novel does not come to the expected end featuring a complete transformation of Katy from boy-band-lover to punk-rocker. In this way, the book is true to its punk heart by declaring, "everyone who is a thinking, feeling, questioning person who stands up for truth is a punk."
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Katy is Beige. Until she is forced to stay with her rocker father "The Rat," she had no idea that people might find her boring. Abandoned by her mother over the summer, Katy is told that this will be the perfect time to get to know the father she has barely seen since she was five. Good girl Katy knows next to nothing about music or the rock scene from which her father cannot seem to detach himself and that her mother escaped so long ago. For the resistant Katy, the summer will turn into one of self-discovery, as she uncovers stories from the past that helped to shape what her childhood became. While the novel seems to be filled with promise, it lacks a truly engaging storyline, and the characters come off as stereotypical and flat at times. Music lovers will enjoy the constant references to bands and playlists that they will recognize. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
What's a decidedly non-hip girl to do when she's suddenly plunged into the punk-rock scene in L.A.? Fourteen-year-old Katy desperately doesn't want to leave her mother and her nice life in Montreal to spend two whole weeks with her almost-famous drummer father, nicknamed "The Rat." Katy doesn't even like music and tries to bury herself in books, but can't escape Lake, the rocker girl assigned to keep an eye on her. Chronically angry Lake takes to calling Katy "Beige," a seemingly perfect label until Katy at last begins to find a side of herself she didn't even know existed. Castellucci shows wonderful insight as she slowly opens Katy's mind to new ideas and conflicting feelings. A cast of quirky characters keeps the book interesting, both for readers interested in the emotional drama and in the L.A. music scene, without getting into anything too gritty. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
"Relax." Lake says. "It’s just feedback from one of the amps."
She likes that I don’t know anything. Thinking I’m stupid probably makes her feel good about herself. She climbs up on the stone wall so that she can see better. She puts her fingers in her mouth and whistles like a trucker.
Suck is the band now taking the stage. Everyone at the party starts to stumble closer.
The Rat takes his place and sits behind his drum kit, shirtless. Sam quietly stands at the microphone as the entire party becomes still. He just stands there with intention.
Suddenly, The Rat breaks the spell, clicking the drumsticks over his head.
He screams, "ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!"
BEIGE by Cecil Castellucci. Copyright © 2007 by Cecil Castellucci. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.