The year is 1971 and the place is Laurel Canyon, California. Quinn, a fourteen-year-old music "encyclopedia," writes a music columncalled "For What It's Worth"for his school paper. But Quinn's world is about to change when he is faced with helping a war dodger and must make some tough decisions. When he starts receiving cryptic Ouija board messages from Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix (all members of the 27 Club), he knows he is in over his head. Fortunately for Quinn, his new girlfriend Caroline helps him get a grip and channel his inner self.
About the Author
Janet Tashjian is the author of many popular novels including My Life as a Book, My Life as a Stuntboy, and The Gospel According to Larry. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
Rock and roll can change the world and save your life—and that’s just for starters. I challenge anyone on the planet to remain in a bad mood when “Gimme Shelter” comes on the radio. It’s physically impossible, right? Rock and roll can get you through a boring school year, give you something to bond over with your friends, even provide you with a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
You think I’m exaggerating? Listening to music is a critical step in growing up, as important as learning how to ride a bike with no hands. And not just rock and roll—pop, rhythm and blues, country, jazz—I don’t care what it is, I’ll listen to it. I’m like a junkie with a twenty-four-hour addiction, except the needle’s not in my arm, it’s on my turntable. Lucky for me, I live in the epicenter of the national music scene. Not just California, but Los Angeles. And not just Los Angeles, but Laurel Canyon. If you love music, there’s nowhere else to be in 1971 but here. I can sit on my front steps, throw a rock in any direction, and hit someone making music for a living. Songwriters, drummers, singers, sound engineers—I’ve trick-or-treated at their houses since grade school. My sister, Soosie, housesits for Joni Mitchell, for crying out loud. Don’t believe me? Ask Soosie to show you the scratches on her arm from Joni’s cat—the singer/songwriter might be known for writing emotionally bare songs about her love life, but her feline companion is a lot less subtle with her claws.
Where do I fit into this musical melting pot? I’m the guy who chronicles EVERYTHING in his ever-present notebook—Elton John’s first U.S. appearance at the Troubador, The Band’s newest demo, any rock-and-roll tidbit a music freak like me might want to know about. I continually make lists of songs, artists, and albums—mostly when I should be doing homework. I begged my English teacher last year to let me write a column for the school paper about the music scene called “For What It’s Worth,” based on the Buffalo Springfield song. She finally relented, and I’ve been cranking out columns and lists ever since. Just to keep in practice, I stockpiled several of them this summer too. Speaking of Joni Mitchell, I just finished one about her dumping Graham Nash while she was on vacation. Women—they’ll annihilate your heart every time.
The city is pulsing, the city is moving to an internal beat—can you hear it?
Text copyright © 2012 by Janet Tashjian
Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Adam Gustavson
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a gift for my son who loves this author. He loved the book. He actually wrote to this author and she was kind enough to write a hand-written reply to him.
This book totally change my life. I already love the author and have met her but i was still slow to read this book. I wish i hadn't waited. It was amazing. You don't even have to love music to love this book i am at a loss for words - that good. As soon as i finished this book i turned off all the lights in my room put on the radio and sat in the dark thinking about the book. I am not kidding one of the best books i have read. I am in sixth grade so like 11 and up - The Bookworm Girl
My daughter and I picked this book for our mother/daughter book club because I was her age in the 70s and I wanted her to know about the culture at the time. My daughter's knowledge of the music in the book was limited, which led to much discussion and sharing about our favorite music and rock and roll history. I loved the way that this book allowed me to bond with her.
This book is awesome! I love rock music, so it was really cool to be able to read a novel starring some of the greats. The only problem was that it made me wish I lived during that time! I'm totally making a playlist for this book.