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Guitar Girl

Guitar Girl

4.4 86
by Sarra Manning

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Seventeen-year-old Molly Montgomery never planned on becoming famous. Molly's band, The Hormones, was just supposed to be about mucking around with her best mates, Jane and Tara, and having fun. But when the deliciously dangerous Dean and his friend T join the band, things start happening fast. Soon The Hormones are front-page news, and their debut album is rocketing


Seventeen-year-old Molly Montgomery never planned on becoming famous. Molly's band, The Hormones, was just supposed to be about mucking around with her best mates, Jane and Tara, and having fun. But when the deliciously dangerous Dean and his friend T join the band, things start happening fast. Soon The Hormones are front-page news, and their debut album is rocketing up the charts. Molly is the force behind the band, but the hazards of fame, first love, screaming fans, and sleazy managers are forcing the newly crowned teen queen of grrl angst close to the edge. Fame never comes for free, and Molly's about to find out what it costs.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
British writer Sarra Manning turns up the volume in teen lit with this rocking novel about a girl who learns about life as her band makes a hit on the music circuit.

Molly Montgomery's band starts as a small-time thing between three friends, but soon she, Jane, and Tara have become the Hormones. When they're joined by two guys -- Dean and T -- who try to "improve" their band, the Hormones find themselves quickly sailing to the top of the charts. Sound exciting? It could be, except being in a popular teen band has its drawbacks: Everyone wants your lyrics to be ultra-grown-up (what's wrong with Hello Kitty and magic markers?), managers expect to control your every move, and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle (including sex with Dean and Jane dabbling with drugs) hits you head-on. Fortunately, Molly has a strong will and good pals, and with every move the Hormones take, she seems to keep her head on somewhat straight. In the end, it's an American tour that determines whether Molly can keep it up, and she learns that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be.

With a sure voice, Manning delivers a novel that chick-lit fans will eat up. Molly is an admirable character who can hold her own, and her struggle between girlhood and rock stardom will speak to readers wondering if Britney Spears and other teen celebs have gone through something similar. Without a doubt, Guitar Girl is one jamming read. Shana Taylor

Publishers Weekly
"This first novel may be predictable, but Molly Montgomery's compelling voice will pull in readers as she chronicles her quick rise to pop star fame with her British band, the Hormones," said PW. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Molly Montgomery recounts the ups and downs of her year as a teenage pop star diva in this coming-of-age novel about sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll odes to Hello Kitty and "Magic Marker Love." Molly's girl band, The Hormones, starts as a trio of disaffected British high schoolers, quickly expands to include handsome, temperamental guitarist Dean and his dread-locked sidekick T, then explodes on the U.K. music scene thanks to a ruthless London promoter who propels the group to instant stardom and an American tour. The night of Molly's eighteenth birthday he plies her with alcohol before enticing her to sign a disadvantageous contract, which ultimately leads to Molly's departure from the band. Her high-energy voice matches the Very Cherry color she dyes her hair to go on stage, and it is that sometimes plaintive, sometimes fierce voice, with its British syntax and slang intact, that carries the novel. Like her year, though, the book has its ups and downs: a series of tender moments leads to a well-drawn scene of her first experience of sex, which is a huge emotional focus of the novel; the ending is less satisfactory. But with its account of band mate Jane's drug and alcohol and excesses, and characters in their late teens and early twenties, Molly's story may be better suited for older high school readers than for the publisher's recommended age of 12 and up. 2004, Dutton Children's Books, Ages 12 up.
— J. H. Diehl
This book does not have a happy ending. The story is painful, disillusioning, and most important, real. Although the surrounding characters tend to be two-dimensional, Manning lends Molly a voice that is believable in both the teenage sense as well as the British. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll—it's the same story told honestly. Every teen with dreams of starting a guitar-strumming-girl-revolution should take a peek at this one. VOYA Codes 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Dutton, 256p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Jessica Lee, Teen Reviewer
What are the odds that I would be reviewing two books about teenage girls who become fabulously famous rock stars—in the same issue? (See Pop Princess, above.) Guitar Girl is set in England and Manning is a writer with a lot of experience, as an entertainment editor for J17 magazine. She seems comfortable telling a story about a successful rock band and the gossipy details—their love lives, their professional jealousy, their weaknesses for alcohol and drugs. Mollie, the lead singer and songwriter, is an interesting character, brilliant in her way, confused and immature most of the time. Miraculously, Mollie and two of her friends start playing around one day with a song Mollie puts together and voilà—soon they are a successful band, with a manager and plenty of work. Two male musicians, slightly older, join them, providing better musical arrangements and more energy and skill. Mollie is still the driving force and creative talent, but one of the new guys, Dean, is jealous. There is a lot of tension between Mollie and Dean, and eventually they become lovers—secret lovers, having a lot of sex—pretending that they hate each other when they are with the rest of the band. One really amusing subplot is based around Mollie's parents—aging hippies who adore Bob Dylan and hate the music Mollie and the band are making together. The parents are extremely protective of their daughter, of course with little effect. They wish she would quit all of the glitz and settle down by going to college. The cover features a believable Mollie, with bright red hair, just like in the story. American readers will have to struggle a bit with the British expressionsand culture. For instance, Mollie has to spend three months on A-Level revision—do you know what that is? Mollie's friend Jane has a serious drinking problem and also gets into trouble with drugs. Her other friend in the band, Tara, kisses her one night and confesses that she loves her. All this is told in a gossipy, exaggerated fashion. I like this line of Mollie's, assuming the reader knows Jane Eyre, "Except I wasn't wearing a bonnet and didn't have to eke out an existence as a governess to a brooding man with a mad wife locked away in his attic. My life was far worse than that." This all is a bit risqué for the youngest YAs, but everyone is going to enjoy listening to Mollie's woes. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2003, Penguin, Dutton, 217p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Molly, 17, never planned to reach pop stardom. She just enjoyed writing songs and playing music with her friends, Jane and Tara. When they start a rock band called The Hormones, two slightly older guys, T and Dean, maneuver their way into the group, and there is no looking back. Suddenly famous, Molly takes off on tour with the band, performing in England and eventually in the United States. Despite Dean and Molly's frequent confrontations, they fall in love. They have plenty of tender and passionate sex (protection isn't mentioned), until she learns that his motivation for the relationship hasn't been totally honest. Finally determining that rock-star life is less than idyllic, Molly chooses to call it quits, despite lawsuit threats. The story's carefully developed characters and relationships, driven by tuned-in dialogue, make it realistic and compelling. Molly's first-person voice rings clear and true. Like 16-year-old Wonder in Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess (S & S, 2004), she finds herself on a roller-coaster ride through makeovers, alcohol-laden parties, sensationalist critiques, attempts to manage schoolwork, demands of a pushy manager, losing her virginity, and dealing with parents. Wryly funny, often sincere, and sometimes pressed into banshee-like behavior, Molly is endearing in her attempts to reach maturity, sort out what's important, and decide what needs to be left behind.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite an intermittently witty voice and a high interest topic, this trip through the world of pop rock never gets off the ground. Seventeen-year-old narrator Molly Montgomery finds herself living the dream of many teenagers as the lead singer in a popular band. But except for the rush of performing, she just doesn't have much fun. Her love-hate relationship with a male band member predictably becomes an anguished love affair, while her close friendships with the band's other two girls deteriorate. Readers will have to suspend their disbelief as Molly, who has no musical training, succeeds by writing songs such as "Hello Kitty Speedboat," and succumbs to her dishonest manager's blatant manipulations. Molly's comments on her ex-hippie parents, and her interactions with them, provide hilarious moments, but not enough of them to get this story rocking. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
The story's carefully developed characters and relationships, driven by tuned-in dialogue, make it realistic and compelling. (School Library Journal, starred review)

Molly Montgomery's compelling voice will pull in readers. . . . (Publishers Weekly)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.61(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

I only started to freak out in the dressing room just before we went on stage. I'd decided to wear my Best Buys Bri-nylon overall as this cool ironic statement, but it was sticking to my fishnet tights in a very unflattering way, and I couldn't help but wonder if people would simply think I hadn't had time to change after work.

"I look like a dork, don't I?" I muttered for the fifty-seventh time, but Jane was back combing her hair and Tara was mumbling something about picturing the audience naked. I could taste the fear at the back of my throat. It was a metallic, bitter tang that wouldn't budge, no matter how much water I gulped down. I felt like I was about to go naked into battle.

But once I was actually on stage, it was too late to feel frightened. In actual fact, the warm glow of the spotlights felt comforting and safe, and it wasn't as if I could actually see anybody's faces. It was like being back in my bedroom but with much, much better lighting. Plus there was applause and shouts of encouragement, and for about the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere.

Then my feet, which had been rooted to the floor, began to move -- and the next thing I knew, I was throwing definite rock chick shapes. One leg up on the monitor, head flung back, and my hips were shaking in a definite 'come hither' way, while I poured out all those words that had been stuck inside me for so long....

"This is a song about those little toys that you get in the plastic egg machine outside Sainsbury's," I suddenly announced, like I'd been working a room since I was knee-high to a mic stand. "It's called 'Made in Korea.' One, two...One, two, three, four!" Jane was looking at me in disbelief and then shaking her head and laughing. And all the while I could feel the power thrumming through me, because I could make these noises come out of my guitar and make people listen to the stories inside my head.

After we came off stage, I didn't know where to put myself. All the adrenaline that had kicked in was still whooshing around my system. I prowled around the tiny dressing room 'cause it was such a kick to have a dressing room to prowl around in -- but then Jane burst in, her usual cool abandoned. "There are people out there who want to talk to us!" she announced. "Stuck-up people who'd usually look down their noses at us. Are you coming, Moll?" But I was already out the door and trying to adjust my excited skipping to a more casual saunter.

"You were great."

"Loved the set."

"Are you playing again?"

"You're in my A-level psychology class."

I was surrounded by a blur of faces all talking at me, and I realized that this is what it must be like if you're popular. This is what it must be like if you're Lizzie Firestone or Tania Chase or all those other girls at school who fit in.

Jane came up behind me and wrapped a hot, sticky arm around my waist, and we talked to people who were actually interested in us and listened to us, pretending that we did this kind of thing every day. The last admirer (note to self: we had admirers!) eventually trailed away and I nudged Jane with my hip. "Being in a band is like a cheap day return to cool," I shouted in her ear.

She grinned. "And did you notice how they were all girls and they all looked a bit like us?"

"'Cept they weren't us, 'cause we --"

"'Cause we rock!"

We paused to ponder just how much we did rock when Tara suddenly appeared, looking all whey-faced and wan.

"I'm never doing that again," she said with a shudder. "Everyone was staring at us. Urgh!"

"What did you think they were going to do -- close their eyes while we played?" Jane raised her eyes to heaven.

"I hadn't thought about it."

"Aw, poor Tara," I said, giving her hand a squeeze. "What happened to imagining them naked?"

Tara shuddered again. "I was too busy trying not to throw up to think about that."

Jane snorted and started to tell Tara how we were the new queens of the scene, but I was distracted by a boy. A boy who was staring at me like I was an all-you-can-eat buffet. I mean, he wasn't even making a paltry attempt to disguise the fact that he was staring at me-but I supposed I was going to have to get used to this kind of attention.

What would Ruby X do in this situation?

I sidled over to him, and as I got nearer I realized that apart from the unnerving starey thing, he was quite cute. Tall and lanky, but somehow managing to bypass weedy. Dark tufty hair, good cheekbones, and a T-shirt that would have looked like Hello Kitty if Hello Kitty had devil horns and a blood mustache.

He didn't stop looking as I closed the gap between us, just raised his eyebrows and waited for me to say something.

"Are you going to stare at me all night or are you going to buy me a drink?" My opening line was a nice blend of confrontation and flirtiness, I thought. I smiled mysteriously at him and wondered where I'd got the stones to be so...sultry.

"I'm going to stare," he said flatly, looking down his slightly-too-big nose at me.

"Oh." But the thing was, I couldn't walk away now that he'd fronted me, so I tried again. "Did you like our set?"

Starey-boy considered the question for a moment. "Your songs are really immature, you can't play your guitar to save your life, your drummer's a shambles, and as for the girl on bass -- my gran could do better, and she's paralyzed down her right side."

I stood there, opening and shutting my mouth like a mentally challenged goldfish, racking my brains for a snappy, devastatingly brutal comeback to wipe the smirk off his face. But Jane, who must have been listening to his snark for some time, beat me to it.

"Well, screw you then, sad boy," she snarled. "I saw you gawping at Molly all through the set, and if you think slagging us off is gonna get her interested, then you're even more lame than you look."

"Yeah," I added, all brave and blustery now that my best friend had appeared.

The boy looked unimpressed. "You're going to have to get used to constructive criticism if you're serious about your, um, group," he said, smirking again.

How could I ever have thought that he was cute? "We are serious," I said witheringly.

"I bet you thought you'd get loads of little groupies, didn't you?" he continued. "And that you'd be the heroines of the Year Twelve common room tomorrow."

Jane had given up any attempt to speak, but from the way she kept clenching and unclenching her fists I could tell she was planning to inflict bodily harm.

"Look, you don't know anything about us --" I began angrily, but sounds were still coming out of his mouth.

"I know you need a decent guitarist and a drummer who's not afraid to beat the crap out of his kit." He turned to Tara, who'd wandered over to see what was going on. "No offense."

"None taken. I suck," she agreed happily. Jane and I glared at her furiously.

"Tara," growled Jane warningly.

"I'm Dean, by the way," said the boy, as if we actually cared.

"And we're so not interested," Jane hissed.

All my adrenaline had fizzled away after Hello Satan's little pep talk was done. I turned to walk away, but Dean grabbed my arm. I looked at his hand like it was made of some icky, radioactive gloop.

"You need me," he said simply.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
The story's carefully developed characters and relationships, driven by tuned-in dialogue, make it realistic and compelling. (School Library Journal, starred review)

Molly Montgomery's compelling voice will pull in readers. . . . (Publishers Weekly)

Meet the Author

Sarra Manning is a teen queen extraordinaire. She spent five years working on the now sadly defunct UK teen mag, J17, first as a writer and then as Entertainment Editor. She then joined the launch team of teen fashion bible Ellegirl UK, which she later went on to edit and has consulted on a wide range of other youth titles including Bliss, The Face and More.

Sarra was most recently editor of BBC’s What To Wear magazine. She’s now advises a number of UK magazine publishers as well as being a contributing editor to Elle UK. Sarra has also contributed to The Guardian, ES Magazine, Seventeen, Details and Heat and wrote the Shop Bitch column for Time Out London. Pretty Things is her second title for Penguin and she’s currently working on her next book, Let’s Get Lost. Sarra lives in North London with her devoted dog, Dino, the mongrel she saved from an untimely death.

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Guitar Girl (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a girl Molly Montgomery and her two best friends who get bored one day and decide to start a rockband. They go from the not popular teenagers at their school to the girls in a famous rockband. During one of the first gigs they ever played, they get all good feedback from the audience. That night, two boys Dean and T decide to join the band too. The band gets a manager and eventually becomes famous and goes on tour. Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll sums up this book well. Molly goes through things that change her life and leaves her questioning whether she should stay with the band or not. I really enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend this book to an age group of 13-16. Anyone younger probably wouldn't be able to keep up. Anyone older might think its childish. The beginning was boring, but once Dean and T join the band, things start stirring up and have me on the edge of my seat. I think the lead character Molly can relate to many kids in high school currently. This book contains a lot of drama, which is interesting. Sarra Manning is deffinitly a talented author. Tyler
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xx_lovebug_xx More than 1 year ago
This book got me into reading I highly recommend it!
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Juliet94 More than 1 year ago
This book was really great! Molly and her two best friends form their own band. Two guys join and they sign on with a record label and travel around the UK and US giving concerts. This is a great story about love and finding yourself. After traveling with her band, Molly realizes the real meaning of love and what music is really about. I love the story line, but the ending was unsatifactory to me. 1) In the prologue when she's reading through the files it says something about "trying to rub her taut stomach" and that led me to believe she was pregnant and although probablly a happier ending, it was a bit of a let down when thats what I was expecting through teh whole book. 2) I'm a sucker for happy endings and although her realizing that the famous life was not what she wanted and that music is for her and her alone is satisfactory, I wish she would've stayed with Dean. He really loved her I think, even though he was a player. Anyways, I'd definately reccommend this book, although for older teens. Sara Manning's a great author.
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runningforamsterdam More than 1 year ago
I've wanted to read Sarra Manning's novels for such a long time, and now that i'm making my way through all of them, i'm falling in love. Guitar Girl is one her of her first novels, and it's wonderful. From beginning to end, the character development is drastic. Molly is at times so unbelievably immature and has feelings that we've all had. Most of the time, her story is completely relatable, except the whole rock star thing. The ending is sad but perfect. Sarra Manning is a wonderful writer, and i'm so happy i made the time to read this book. I'd definately read it again.
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ms_edward_cullen_109 More than 1 year ago
i really liked the beginning! i mean this book definatley caught my eye with her bright hair and just the name sounded pretty cool, but towards the end i didnt really like it. she made a good decision and i cant do anything about how the writer wrote it but the ending was sorta suck-ish. it would have been a re-reader if it ended a little diferently. I honestly believe that a sequal would make this book better, but its left very closed, so the only sequal would be her making the same mistake of becoming famous again with a jerky manager and a dumb boyfriend who calls her after 2 years and hangs up cause he doesn't know what to say. If you like sorta happy and unhappy endings... this is your tale!
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