So Punk Rock: And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother

Overview

Despite his dreams of hipster rock glory, Ari Abramson's band, the Tribe, is more white bread than indie-cred. Made up of four suburban teens from a wealthy Jewish school, their Mötley Crüe is about as hardcore as SAT prep and scripture studies.

But after a one-song gig at a friend's Bar Mitzvah—a ska cover of "Hava Nagilah"—the Tribe's popularity erupts overnight. Now, Ari is forced to navigate a minefield of inflated egos, misplaced romance, ...

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Overview

Despite his dreams of hipster rock glory, Ari Abramson's band, the Tribe, is more white bread than indie-cred. Made up of four suburban teens from a wealthy Jewish school, their Mötley Crüe is about as hardcore as SAT prep and scripture studies.

But after a one-song gig at a friend's Bar Mitzvah—a ska cover of "Hava Nagilah"—the Tribe's popularity erupts overnight. Now, Ari is forced to navigate a minefield of inflated egos, misplaced romance, and the shallowness of indie-rock elitism. It's a hard lesson in the complex art of playing it cool.

So Punk Rock is...

a 2010 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teen Readers

"Awesome. Brilliant. Hilarious. So Punk Rock is so good!"
—Blake Nelson, author of Girl

"A downright hilarious read."—Elizabeth Bird, author of School Library Journal's A Fuse #8 Production

"[A] cutting-edge prose-graphic hybrid. . .smart, laugh-out-loud witty."—Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Eternal

A Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth (2009) and Top 10 Religious Books for Youth (2009).

For more information, visit: www.kosherpunkrock.com.

Other links for So Punk Rock:

The Tribe Myspace page:
http://www.myspace.com/tribenj

Ari on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/rockonari

Reena on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/NJchoirGRRL

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lucy Freeman
So Punk Rock is awkwardly timed, with some scenes dragging on endlessly while other more important ones are over in half a page. Readers will be bored by the lack of strength in Ari's character and with the writing. There are occasional laughs to be had, but overall the plot is predictable after the first few pages. So Punk Rock is not quite as punk rock as the title may suggest. Reviewer: Lucy Freeman, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Geri Diorio
Ari Abramson dreams of being in a punk rock band because guys in bands get girls like Sari Horowitz. At least that is what Ari hopes. He recruits his musically challenged but charismatic best friend, Jonas, to play bass and manages to convince two siblings who actually have some musical talent—drummer Yossi and singer Reena—to join as well. All four teens go to Leo R. Gittleman Jewish Day School together. The setting is key, as Ari and his friends define themselves by their culture. The band actually has a few semi-successful gigs before internal conflicts wreak havoc, someone else gets Sari, and the band breaks up. In the aftermath, Ari finds real love, starts to open up to his parents, and gains some direction in his life. The characters are stock—self-absorbed Jonas, smart-cookie-who-Ari-should-like Reena, heart-and-soul-of-the-group Yossi, looking-for-his-way Ari. The story is simple, predictable, and mildly fun. There are a few pages of comic art interspersed throughout the book. The art is charming, simple black-and-white line drawings, but the reasons for inclusion are curious because they do nothing to move the story along. Still for teens who love music and dream of being in a band, this novel might be a pleasant way to pass a rainy afternoon. Reviewer: Geri Diorio
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Sixteen-year-old Ari Abramson has a Plan: form a band, get famous, and get Sari Horowitz to finally notice him. Unfortunately, his parents have a different plan: study constantly, earn a perfect score on the SAT, and get accepted to Brandeis. Though Ari finds his classmates superficial and unsympathetic, he strives single-mindedly to gain their acceptance and admiration. He mocks frontman Jonas's shallowness and vanity; however, as he comes closer to achieving his goal, he becomes more shallow and vain himself. Scholarly and conscientious drummer Yossi, and Reena, the cool and perceptive chanteuse, are foils to Ari's ambivalence and willful ignorance. As Ari's band, The Tribe, gets more popular, things don't exactly work out according to The Plan. Ultimately, the teen is forced to face the truth about who he is and what he really wants. Set in the suburbs of New Jersey, Ostow's bildungsroman is also a witty study of Jewish day-school culture. Ari's breezy narration includes using nouns and adjectives as verbs (Jonas "obviouses," Ben "brats") to humorous effect. It's also peppered with Jewish vocabulary, which is defined in the illustrated glossary. Ari's black-and-white "doodles," some of which are in graphic-novel form, are some of the funniest parts of the book. The Tribe is living the rock-and-roll lifestyle, so there is some adult language and underage drinking. Readers will be engaged by Ari's droll account of his struggle to achieve indie rock stardom and his subsequent disillusionment.—Erin Carrillo, formerly at Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Judaism, bass guitars and SAT scores: the ingredients for a band's rise to fame-maybe. While his parents dream of elite Jewish colleges, Ari has visions of starting his own ska band. With his best friend's help, Ari recruits Yossi, the most devout kid at their Jewish prep school, who has both a drum set and a vocalist sister. Once the Tribe hits the stage, however, friendships start to fray, and Ari's band might only make the one-hit-wonder list. Ari's malleable personality could be dull, but Micol Ostow works hard to go beyond mere wannabe-musician angst. The pitch-perfect dialogue pairs seamlessly with David Ostow's black-and-white panels, which are dispersed throughout the text and pull the narrative threads together. Additional illustrations crop up in the text, introducing characters, places and moments of humor. The resolution isn't as original as the artwork, but the glossary at the end makes it well worth finishing. Heavy on the Jewish humor, but without the vulgarity of Adam Sandler, the Ostows successfully balance culture with teen experience. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738714714
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 7/8/2009
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 830,237
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Micol Ostow (New York City) has written more than thirty-five published works for children and young adults. So Punk Rock was inspired by the thirteen years of Jewish day school that she and her brother David experienced. Micol is currently pursuing an MFA in writing through Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaching YA writing up and down the Eastern seaboard. For more information, visit www.MicolOstow.com or www.KosherPunkRock.com.

Illustrator David Ostow (Hoboken, New Jersey) was trained as an architect. He currently works at a large design firm in New York City and also illustrates on a freelance basis. So Punk Rock is his first literary endeavor. Visit David at www.DavidOstow.com or at www.KosherPunkRock.com.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2010

    So Punk Rock! (Hilarious Book!)

    I really enjoyed reading this book. This book is also somewhat of a Graphic Novel, the author's brother- David Ostow, did the drawings for this book and they are so good! And VERY FUNNY! So Punk Rock is filled with lots of humor and teenage angst. Ari (our protagonist) is tired of rules and abiding to them. He dreams of having his own band and rocking out- Punk Rock style. SAT's seem to be far away but for Ari's parents, its never to early to start practicing and putting dedication into studying. A must to enter the college of their choice-Brandeis. Not to mention the fact that he attends a wealthy Jewish school, where there are more "Holy Rules" to abide.

    In order to break free, Ari forms a band "The Tribe" which consists of his High-Ego best friend Jonas, the quiet and religious Yossi, and Reena- the down-to-earth chick who can sing.As the bands career "takes off" many things occur all at once. Fights between friends, heart aches, misplacements, parties and Calculus Finals! You'll take a look inside the experience of attending a Jewish School- as told from experience from Micol Ostow. You don't have to be Jewish to understand certain terms or phrases that are said throughout the book. You'll definetely understand them! A rush out ride- filled with many laughs and sarcasm. For anyone who loves graphic novels or fun filled reads. I definetly recommend this book for you!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2009

    Janie Franz, Midwest Book Review

    Ari Abramson, has had life his all planned for him for years. But as he approaches his junior year at Leo R. Gittleman High School, a Jewish day school in New Jersey, he realizes that he doesn't want what his parents and his teachers expect of him. He wants to be a rock star. Lofty dream? Yeah, but with it, he sees freedom, respect of his peers, and most of all being noticed by Sari Horowitz. Ari draws together arrogant but handsome and popular Jonas Fein to play bass and pudgy, bookish Yossi Gluck to play drums and who can offer the band the use of his family's indoor racquet ball court to practice in. But there's a catch, Yossi's parents insist that the band include Yossi's little sister, freshman Reena Gluck, who by the way can sing like Nora Jones. Also, Yossi has a number of restrictions on when they practice and where they perform because he's more strict in his practice of Jewish codes than his peers. Oh, and there are a couple of other things: They all need to learn how to play their instruments, and they need to keep all of this from Ari's parents!

    The band, called the Tribe, finally manages to pull together a version of "Hava Nagilah," a traditional Jewish folk song, and they play it for a one-song gig at a friend's Bar Mitzvah. The kids are instant hits. But instead of the band bringing all sorts of perks and an entrance to a teenage Nirvana, the kids find themselves dealing with egos, the downside of fame, groupies, and misplaced love, as well as sneaking out, fender-benders, and a bit of underage drinking. They find that being a rock star isn't all it's cracked up to be. But the lessons learned and the friendships the band forges are priceless.

    This fun romp through teenage angst and life lessons is presented in So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother by Micol Ostow and illustrated by David Ostow. It is a mix of text and graphic novel illustrations that will make it a big hit with youthful readers. The characters are fresh and ones you don't always see in teenage literature because these are Jewish Conservative students who come from families who observe Jewish religion and culture in varying ways. Though I knew a lot about Jewish practices, I was surprised as how Micol Ostow was able to explain these to readers without going into long discussions. The author also did include an illustrated glossary at the back of the book for further clarification.

    I was surprised, though, to find that book was written not by a man, but by a woman, in first person. To some adult readers, this ongoing teenage monolog would be tedious, but I found it true to life and just as applicable to my grand-nephews who are Christian as it would be to other Jewish children.

    Young readers will love So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother and might learn a lot about another culture and religion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 2, 2009

    Music Rebellion

    Ari Abramson, has had life his all planned for him for years. But as he approaches his junior year at Leo R. Gittleman High School, a Jewish day school in New Jersey, he realizes that he doesn't want what his parents and his teachers expect of him. He wants to be a rock star.

    The band, called the Tribe, that he pulls together finally manages to nail a rock version of "Hava Nagilah," a traditional Jewish folk song, and they play it for a one-song gig at a friend's Bar Mitzvah. The kids are instant hits. But instead of the band bringing all sorts of perks and an entrance to a teenage Nirvana, the kids find themselves dealing with egos, the downside of fame, groupies, and misplaced love, as well as sneaking out, fender-benders, and a bit of underage drinking. They find that being a rock star isn't all it's cracked up to be. But the lessons learned and the friendships the band forges are priceless.

    This fun romp through teenage angst and life lessons is presented in So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother by Micol Ostow and illustrated by David Ostow. It is a mix of text and graphic novel illustrations that will make it a big hit with youthful readers. The characters are fresh and ones you don't always see in teenage literature because these are Jewish Conservative students who come from families who observe Jewish religion and culture in varying ways. Though I knew a lot about Jewish practices, I was surprised as how Micol Ostow was able to explain these to readers without going into long discussions. The author also did include an illustrated glossary at the back of the book for further clarification.

    I was surprised, though, to find that book was written not by a man, but by a woman, in first person. To some adult readers, this ongoing teenage monolog would be tedious, but I found it true to life and just as applicable to my grand-nephews who are Christian as it would be to other Jewish children.

    Young readers will love So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother and might learn a lot about another culture and religion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book is strictly kosher!

    I picked up this book after reading about it and thinking "Oy vey, that sounds fun!" I wasn't wrong. Not by a long shot. This depiction of the genesis of a high school band called the Tribe is a funny, heartwarming story that will appeal to Jews and non-Jews alike (and even includes a funny glossary for those who need one). Although Ari and his fellow band mates attend a Jewish day school, anyone will be able to relate to the troubles facing the band, from in-fighting to clashes of values and the inevitable egos that come as a result of hitting it big. This book was a lot of fun but did have some deeper issues to keep it from being just fluff. The illustrations also added to the book - some were downright hilarious and although I'm not typically the type to read books of this type, I didn't skip the graphic portions at all. I give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 Stars (of David, of course).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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