Born to Rock

Born to Rock

4.7 18
by Gordon Korman, Billy Hammond

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Leo Caraway, president of the Young Republicans Club and a future Harvard student, has his entire future planned. But Leo is soon thrown for a loop when he discovers that the lead singer of punk rock's most destructive band is his biological father.See more details below

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Leo Caraway, president of the Young Republicans Club and a future Harvard student, has his entire future planned. But Leo is soon thrown for a loop when he discovers that the lead singer of punk rock's most destructive band is his biological father.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though Hammond gets off to a slightly bumpy, halting start, he soon catches the fun rhythm and youthful energy of Korman's latest novel, a fresh spin on the fish-out-of-water tale. Leo Caraway leads a charmed life as a fairly straight-laced Young Republican and A-student headed for Harvard on a scholarship. But then he finds out that his biological father is none other than Marion X. McMurphy (aka King Maggot), lead singer of the wildly popular punk band Purge. As Leo expects, this shocking bit of information brings with it some bad karma, and a misunderstanding costs him his Harvard scholarship. Only one out-there option makes sense at this point: Leo will work as a roadie for Purge, and get his father to cough up the tuition money. But life on a rock tour is even freakier than Leo imagined, and the truth he learns about dear old dad is freakiest of all. Rock fans will appreciate the short riffs at chapter breaks and the intriguing music-centric premise. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Leo Caraway has an imp hiding inside him, just waiting to explode. His name is McMurphy. Unfortunately for Leo—Young Republican, accepted early to Harvard, and future stocks annalist—it chooses to explode in his senior year of high school. Can buttoned-down Leo survive learning that the true identity of his birth father is the punk rock star King Maggot? Can Leo pry his first year's tuition out of Maggot by signing on to his nationwide summer tour as a roadie? Can anyone who hates punk rock as much as he does stand the physical and aural pain? Korman gives Leo's voice his usual sardonic cast as our hero narrates his escalating woes. Along the way the grungy world of comeback stars is unveiled in full glory. The reader also has the pleasure of meeting the gothic Melinda, the hapless and gay Owen looking for true love, and most especially, Leo's marvelous mom, who deals with her repressions by building miles of jigsaw puzzles through the ever-narrowing passageways of home. With such a sharp, wry mix, it is obvious Gordon Korman has another hit on his hands. 2006, Hyperion, Ages 12 up.
—Kathleen Karr
Leo Caraway, high school senior and staunch member of the Young Republicans Club, takes more than one hit in this book suitable for readers in grades seven through ten. His acceptance to Harvard and subsequent dream of a future six-figure income have been derailed. Caught in an exam-cheating technicality, Leo's Ivy League fast track fizzles, but that is just one problem. McMurphy, a mysterious name haunting him, finally becomes clear. Leo discovers that his biological father is Marion X. McMurphy, aka. King Maggot, front man for Purge, the legendary 1980s punk band. Leo's mother admits being with King Maggot, shattering the teen's image of his middle-class parents. Finally Gothgirl Melinda-on whom Leo has a crush-informs him, "I would never date a Republican." Refusing to let these troubles destroy him and needing cash for Harvard, Leo confronts King Maggot and scores a summer roadie job with Purge on their reunion tour. From city to city, Leo observes the punk band's on- and off-stage nastiness. Purge is the Angriest Band in America, and their habits sear Leo's Republican persona. Should he be like bio-dad and ascend to Prince Maggot status? A baby sporting a Mohawk is great cover art and the familiar theme of not fitting in with unsavory family members will attract readers. Reminiscent of Son of the Mob (Hyperion, 2002/VOYA February 2003) and its sequel, Hollywood Hustle (2004/VOYA December 2004), this fast-moving and readable book is recommended but lacks the magic of Korman's two previous hits. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Hyperion, 272p., Ages12 to 18.
—Rollie Welch
Julie Jones
Woven with wit and anecdotal wisdom, Born to Rock is a charming story of adolescence, politics, music, sexuality, family, and friendship. When Leo, a typical 4.0 Young Republican bound for Harvard, finds out his biological father is the lead singer in an '80s punk rock group, one crazy summer ensues. King Maggot, said biological father, invites Leo along for the group's revival tour, and Leo commences to live the life of a roadie—minus the drugs, parties, and women—for two months. Amidst late-night poodle pursuits, drummers embezzling emeralds, best friend blog revelations, and cavity searches, Leo learns the meaning of friendship, loyalty, and responsibility. While the title and subject matter may suggest a racy book loaded with sex, drugs, and profanity, Korman manages to pack in the adventure and open the discussion without raising the censorship flag. With a cover that rocks on its own and a story that draws kids in from the first line, this novel is "born to rock."
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Leo, a high school senior and "Mr. Republican," has received a scholarship to Harvard. However, after being accused of helping another student during a test, he looses the financial assistance which he must have to enroll. Although he was talking, he was not giving answers to the other student and stands up for himself. At about the same time, he learns that his biological father is really King Maggot, the leader of a popular punk rock band. Leo manages to get a job as a roadie with the band hoping to get King to pay his college tuition. That summer, he learns who his real friends are and much more about himself. Billy Hammond becomes Leo, reading the first person narrative in the novel by Gordon Korman (Hyperion, 2006) at a lively pace and with plenty of emotion. He employs some voice changes to reflect the other characters. Teens will relate to the informal dialogue and enjoy eavesdropping on Leo as he reflects. Sound effects play a key role in this recording and are sure to please listeners. Short interludes of punk music are played frequently. There are noises of crowds, emails are read with an echo, and phone conversations sound realistic. An excellent choice.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Korman is a good date: Laugh-out-loud funny, honest, hot and sweet, he knows how to start a story with lines about Republicans and body-cavity searches in the first few pages. Leo, our hero, is a senior with a scholarship to Harvard, a tangential relationship to the Young Republicans, good, loving parents and Goth-goddess Melinda, whom he's known all his life. But shortly readers-and Leo-discover that a good deed gets him accused of cheating, loses him his scholarship and reveals to him his hitherto unknown parentage. One night's backstage indiscretion by his mom meant that Leo's biological father is none other than King Maggot, lead screamer of Purge, the band that practically founded punk, and Melinda's hero. Leo spends the summer after senior year as a roadie for Purge's reunion tour, with its standard excesses and odd charms chronicled in Leo's self-aware, slightly dorky voice. This has virtually the same plotline as Liza Conrad's "chicklet-lit" Rock My World (2005), and the two would make a great couple. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 5 CDs, 5 hours
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

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