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3.5 4
by Jill S. Alexander

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Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town.

Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in


Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town.

Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Maggie L. Schrock
Sixteen year-old Paisley Tillary has always dreamed of being a famous drummer. Part of her dream comes true when she joins the Waylon Slider band; however, she has to keep her accomplishment a secret from her overbearing mother. When the band advertises for a lead singer, they find Gabe, who not only sings but also plays accordion. Gabe and Paisley quickly fall for each other and a roller-coaster romance ensues. Paisley's heart is often sent into overdrive at just the sight of Gabe. The band works hard practicing for the upcoming Texapalooza, an under-18 band competition. Meanwhile, Paisley works even harder to keep her rehearsals and preparation gigs a secret, since her mother wants Paisley to reach for something more feminine. The morning of Texapalooza, Paisley has a change of heart and decides to tell her mother everything. After a complete breakdown, her mother agrees to take her to Austin. Because of an amazing performance, every band member receives offers from other bands. Gabe accepts an offer to fly out that night for a performance the following day. The next day Paisley receives heart-breaking news; Gabe's flight crashed. In the end, Paisley learns an important lesson about "living life wide-open," as Gabe told her multiple times during their brief romance. Alexander's characters are memorable and loveable. Teen girls will love the descriptive details of the male characters, meanwhile learning the valuable theme woven throughout the novel. Reviewer: Maggie L. Schrock
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—All Paisley Tillery wants to do is play the drums, preferably with her country rock band, the Waylon Slider Band, at Texapalooza. When her Thrifty Nickel ad lands the group a handsome lead singer from Paradise, TX, her dream might take flight, except for one tiny obstacle: her mother does not know that she is in a band or has any percussion talents beyond marching band. She keeps a tight rein on Paisley and her sister, Lacey, in order to prevent them from repeating her mistake of being a pregnant teen stuck in Prosper County, so Paisley has taken to practicing with the band in her uncle's hangar on his drums while her mother thinks she's cleaning his house. As they get closer to Texapalooza, things heat up between Paisley and Paradise, and she contemplates his advice to live "wide open" and tell her mother the truth. As in The Sweetheart of Prosper County (Feiwel & Friends, 2009), strong, rural Southern storytelling and mother-daughter conflict are integral parts of the plot, but this title has more of an edge. Alexander's simmering plot is equally driven by a complex story and multiple, complex characters. Though readers will be thrown by the tearjerker ending, they will enjoy the excerpts from lead guitarist Cal's lyrical journal, which are the only real indication that he pines for Paisley.—Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ
Kirkus Reviews

A talented young musician falls for her band's new lead singer, who may be just using her to achieve success—and sex.

Paisley literally thinks in drumbeats—her life centers on percussion—so being the drummer for a band that's practicing for a major music festival, Texapalooza, seems like the answer to her dreams. When deliciously handsome Gabe auditions for the role of lead singer, life gets a lot more complicated. Sparks fly instantly, but he seems interested in both taking over the band and scoring with her sexually. Since she respects the band's real leader and wears a purity ring, strife inevitably arises. Other conflicts: Paisley's older sister is actively rebelling against their mother's domineering supervision, and Paisley herself is keeping her membership in the bandhidden, because she knows her mother wouldn't approve. Also, another member of the band secretly lusts for her, pouring out his desire in often trite songs interspersed through her authentically voiced narration. The writing is uneven, occasionally refined and beguiling—"Little clouds of gold, iridescent pollen danced around the windows in the Sunday morning light"—and at other times descending to disappointing banality, including a climax that's muted by its predictability.

A tame romance, alternately captivating and clichéd, yet effective in portraying a determined teen driven by the music in her soul. (Romance. 12 & up)

Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt




All it took to find Paradise was a five dollar bill and an ad in the Thrifty Nickel.

I was shocked, really, that the ad worked. For starters, cutting out all guitar players whittled the already-small field down to a nub. Most singers at some point in time had picked up a guitar. But Waylon, who considered himself anointed country-music royalty by right of his first name, never listened to reason. As a matter of fact, Waylon Slider didn’t care what I thought as long as I showed up after school with my drumsticks and opened up my uncle L. V.’s airplane hangar to rehearse.

We’d been playing to the Piper Cub and the Miss Molly Moonlight—painted on the nose of the old World War II bomber—for about an hour when Waylon put down his six-string and snatched up the want ads. His rusty, reddish brown hair mounded around his head in a tangled bird’s nest of coarse curls. Sitting on his stool with a fistful of the Thrifty Nickel, Waylon looked like a pouty little Tom Sawyer in a time-out. He raked his top teeth across his bottom lip and pinched his bushy eyebrows together. He just couldn’t make out why no one had answered the ad.

I twisted a bit on my stool, practicing a drumstick toss and backhanded catch. “You know, putting NO in all caps made us look like we had a bunch of insecure guitarists.”

“Shut up, Paisley!” He rolled the Thrifty Nickel into a club and reared up. If I’d been a boy, I think he would have hit me. But he mumbled, “Blondes!” instead and sat back down. “You don’t know anything about band management. Nobody cares what you think.”

That last part was truer than he knew. But with Texapalooza in less than two months, my shot at playing on the same stage as some of the best drummers in the state seemed to be slipping away. The Waylon Slider Band needed a lead singer. So far, Waylon Slider had managed to screw that up.

A gust of March wind blasted the metal siding of the hangar walls like an echoing gong. Cal unplugged his lead guitar. Levi cased his bass.

I had left the tall sliding doors slightly open on the west side, the pasture side of the hangar. The evening sun hung just above the pine thicket in the distance, sending a rectangle of orange light between the doors and glinting off the chrome on my snare.

“Waylon.” I stood up, tugging at the frayed edges of my cutoff shorts. “I’ve got to close up and be through the woods before it gets dark. There’s always tomorrow. We’ll find someone.”

I reached for the tarp to hide my drums when the sunlight went black. Afraid I might have misjudged the time, I spun around. Faced the doors.

Filling the gap was a tall figure in a wide-brimmed hat. He stood with his feet apart and something slung over his shoulder like a saddlebag. Eclipsing the light, he looked like a cowboy cutout etched onto the setting sun.

Waylon jumped to his feet. “You’re not here about the ad, are you?”

The boy didn’t say anything. He ambled across the concrete floor with a bronc-busting swagger like he’d just gone eight seconds on Boom-Shocka-Locka. He pulled up in front of Waylon, cocked his head at Cal and Levi. The boy caught me in his crosshairs, homing in first on my denim cutoffs, then my boots.

I reached into my back pocket. Pulled out my drumsticks. I tossed one into my left hand and twirled the other by my side. Just to let him know I was more than eye candy and the role of band badass was taken.

He grinned, and when he did, the smooth center of his left cheek dimpled.

I dropped my drumstick. Slipping from badass to dumb ass in a heartbeat.

The boy watched it bounce and spin onto the floor. Then he gave Waylon a fist bump and said, “I sing some.”

“Sweet. ’Cause we don’t.” Levi rolled the toothpick dangling off his lip from one corner of his mouth to the other. “Some will be an improvement.”

Waylon’s freckled face turned pink. It wrenched his gut that his voice slipped into a nasal honk when his nerves got the best of him. He grabbed his six-string by the neck. “You don’t play guitar, right?”

The boy in the cowboy hat rubbed his hand over the strap of his bag. “Naw, man. Guitar’s not my thing.”

The flesh tone came back to Waylon’s face. Since competition on guitar was all he seemed to care about, and Levi was willing to let a dog howl while we played as long as we got to play, it was up to me and Cal to check this guy out. I looked to Cal for some help, but he was bent over his spiral, hidden under his long hair, scribbling furiously.

I was going to have to ask the questions, and the light outside was growing dim. We were running out of time.

“Look,” I started. I had never seen him before, so he was either new or went to one of the surrounding county schools. “Not to be rude. But I’ve got to lock up. So, who are you and where are you from?”

His black hat shaded his eyes, but I noticed that he had small gold loops in each earlobe. He wore a pearl snap shirt with the sleeves rolled up and cinched around his biceps. And the hem of his faded jeans was slit at the seams, probably to make it easier to fit over his boots.

“I’m Gabe.” That dimple on his left cheek winked. “From Paradise.”

Cal glanced up, shaking the hair away from his face.

Levi laughed and slapped both hands on his knees. “Well, dude, you’re in for major disappointment, ’cause we ain’t seen a chick in a coconut bra and a grass skirt since Halloween.”

So much for professionalism.

“He means Texas,” Waylon blurted. “Paradise, Texas, right?”

“Sure.” The boy swung his bag from one shoulder to the other like he was toting a fifteen-pound sack of potatoes.

“Waylon.” I tucked my sticks back into my pocket and threw the tarp over my drums. The ting of the cymbals rang through the hangar like the starting bell for the water-gun race at the Prosper County Fair. “Paradise has three minutes to prove he can sing.”

“She’s not joking,” Waylon told him. “Sing something. Anything. Quick.”

The last sliver of sunlight slipped into the hangar, reaching across the black-tarped drum set and touching the silver ring on my left hand.

With one knee slightly bent, the boy from Paradise tapped the heel of his boot against the floor three times—counting himself in. Then he growled out a husky Johnny Cash version of “This Little Light of Mine.”

Before he could finish off the last “let it shine” and I could say, You’ve got to be kidding, Levi started clapping. He stopped long enough to take the toothpick out of his mouth and announce, “Good enough for me.”

Waylon’s face lit up. He raised his eyebrows at me and I gave in. The raspy, low tone of the boy’s voice could add an edge to our sound. And he could stay on pitch. Even if he couldn’t, Gabe from Paradise was our only hope.

Levi picked up his case and patted Waylon on the back on his way out. “If this whole band showcase thing doesn’t work out, there’s always Vacation Bible School down at the First Baptist Church.” Then he squeezed his big frame between the double doors, bumping his butt against one of them to open it a little wider.

Cal shoved his spiral between the books and the skateboard in his backpack. He heaved it over his shoulder, picked up his guitar case. He walked over to Gabe and shook his hand. Gabe’s smooth, tan forearm flexed, making Cal’s thin arm look as fragile as a sparrow’s leg.

“Later, Cal,” I called as he headed through the doors to catch his ride with Levi.

“Looks like you’re in, man,” Waylon said.

Gabe shook Waylon’s freckled hand. Then he reached out to me. The strap on his black shoulder bag slid down to his elbow.

“You’re losing your man purse.” I folded my arms at my waist and smiled. I’d never seen a big ol’ stud cowboy with a murse. “Most of the guys around here carry their books in a backpack.”

He grabbed the strap and eased the bag onto the floor, staring at the top of my blond spikes. “And do most girl drummers Marine-cut their hair and wear purity rings?”

I could’ve speared him with one of my drumsticks. My hair was not that short.

Waylon wedged between us.

“Don’t mind Paisley,” he said, glaring at me. “She gets antsy when it starts to get dark. She has to get home. Her uncle lets us use this place, but her mother doesn’t know she’s in the band.”

The band. I settled down and blew off his stripped-down assessment of my appearance. I deserved it. Uncle L. V. always warned me not to let my mouth get a jump on my judgment. Besides, I had to think about the band.

“So, Paradise,” I began.

His shirt hugged his broad shoulders as he knelt beside his bag, almost making a murse manly. He was a hot mess, probably used to girls wilting from the heat off his ego.

“You sing and you said guitar’s not your thing. What is? Fiddle? Keyboard?”

He pulled something from his bag.

His back was to me, but not to Waylon’s. A whitewash of horror covered Waylon as the blood drained from his face.

Gabe stood up, strapping himself into a red three-row button accordion.

Paradise played squeezebox.

Waylon all but slumped to his knees like some weary nomad finding a pool in the desert only to realize it was a mirage.

I went ahead and stated the obvious. “Well, that’s unexpected.”

“No way is that going to work.” Waylon shook his head. “We’re not a freakin’ polka band.”

Despite the fact that he struggled with singing and had a history of hyperventilating, Waylon Slider maintained a protective vision of the coolness of his own band. A vision built on his bluegrass bloodline and screaming twelve-year-olds at the county fair.

“This is what I play.” Paradise unstrapped the accordion and slipped it back into the bag. “And I don’t sing with people who don’t get it.”

I didn’t know of anything musically that Waylon didn’t get. And Paradise’s comment seemed to irk him; Waylon’s blood boiled back into his face. He could be a hot-tempered imp, holding his breath until he got his way.

But no amount of breath-holding was going to change the fact that if we wanted him to sing, Paradise was going to play squeezebox.

“It’s just an accordion, Waylon.” I tried to coax him as Paradise stood there in his snug jeans and smug attitude. “Think Charles Gillingham with the Counting Crows or Michael Stipe with R.E.M.”

Paradise raised his chin up and for the first time, I got a good look at his eyes—deep pine green with gold flecks that mirrored his earrings.

“Don’t look so surprised.” I strolled past him.

Through the hangar doors, I could see the gray twilight deepening to a dark purple. Rich sunsets were one of the few advantages to being stuck on the less prosperous end of Prosper County and isolated miles outside of the town of Big Wells. I headed out with Waylon and Paradise behind me. “We might be just a hick high school band”—I slid the heavy doors together and padlocked them—“but make no mistake, we know our music. Waylon’s great-granddaddy played bluegrass with Flatt and Scruggs, and he’s been backporch picking since he could walk. Be here next Monday,” I told Paradise. “And be sure you can play that thing.”

I threw my leg over the four-wheeler and turned it on. It sputtered and shook like an old truck on a cold morning. With my drumsticks in my back pocket, I zipped my hoodie and hit the throttle—tearing out across the pasture and into the woods. I didn’t care if he blew on a jug. Everybody has a gift, and if his was pumping an accordion, so be it. Finding Paradise meant we finally had a lead singer and could enter the amateur band contest at Texapalooza. All the bigwigs from Austin to Nashville would be there.

Racing through the piney woods on an old deer run, I leaned low over the handlebars—the damp wind chilling my face and legs. The four-wheeler stalled just as I broke through the thicket into the back pasture. I hit the starter twice and revved the motor. Gassy fumes hung in the dank night air. I squeezed the accelerator hard, speeding along the fence row to our gate. Just to the side of the cattle guard, a round hay bale that Mother had painted with the pink face of the Easter Bunny watched me like some sick funhouse clown.

I sped home. Down the driveway. To our yellow frame house at the end of the blacktop.

I was finally going to get my chance to drum my way out of Dripping Springs and far beyond Prosper County. Me. Running down my own dream. All I had left to do was keep my mother from setting up a roadblock.



You can show up in boots, be shrink-wrapped in denim

Karaoke some with Willie and Hank

But you’ll need skills in the saddle, dude

If you’re gonna wear a hat like that.

Your Stetson’s blocking the sun, leavin’ me in the shadow

But I ain’t gonna stay here for long

This guitar’s my friend, the girls love real thunder

I’m no poser, I’m where it’s at

So you’d better own some land, stock some cattle

If you’re gonna wear a hat like that.

I can tell you like black, into symbols

Bet you jam to Jennings and Cash

But they kicked out the lights, shot up a finger

Ain’t nothin’ symbolic about that

So you’d better find a bull, beat eight seconds

If you’re gonna wear a hat like that.

I don’t begrudge you a lid, maybe you need one

Not everyone can grow rock star hair

But if you’re jackin’ an image to hide a weakness

You’re really not changin’ your stats

Wrestle a steer, dude, and get to ropin’

If you’re gonna wear a hat like that.


Copyright © 2011 by Jill S. Alexander

Meet the Author

Jill S. Alexander is the author of The Sweetheart of Prosper County. A Texas native, she taught high school English and Spanish before turning to writing full-time. She lives in Tyler, Texas, with her husband and son. You can visit her on the Web at jillsalexander.com.

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Paradise 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookcaseLaura More than 1 year ago
This book caught my attention a lot quicker than I expected it to. I was engrossed from page one, and sped through the first half. I really enjoyed the way the characters were introduced and the glimpse into small-town Texas life. But, what I found interesting at first became almost unbearably frustrating about halfway through. The mother in the story is so unlikable and repetitive, I wondered how any of her family could even stand to be in the same room with her, let alone actually love her. Maybe it is because I'm not from the South, but I cannot imagine any teenager (let along two) allowing a parent to mess up their lives so much without fighting even a little bit. The romance was pushed way too fast without any depth added to the main characters feelings for each other. They barely have a conversation and then the reader is expected to believe they are so in love? It makes the ending seem falsely emotional. I did enjoy the main plot and its focus on the music. I believed in this band and was rooting for them to succeed. The book moved quickly and was broken up with song-lyrics, which helped to push the story along. If you enjoy small-town romances (complete with purity rings!) and country music, you will probably enjoy this book. Everyone else should probably skip it.
Cicis_Theories More than 1 year ago
I really liked the rural setting and the characters from the start. I found myself smirking and laughing a little bit right along with them, that is how real the characters were to me. One thing that I really liked about this book is that even though the main story was focused on Paisley and Paradise, I could not help but really get into Waylon, Cal, Levi and Gabe (Paradise). I found the stories of Paisley's family even intriguing. Paradise wasn't a typical teen romance for me. There were no pretty, popular girls to compete with, no triangles, nothing supernatural. Just a country girl knowing her dream and working her tail off to achieve it. What happens along the way is just extra, even though it makes for a great story. So, here's what I loved.I loved that even though Paisley was the main in the story, there were so many interesting stories that surrounded her. Her story was really built up by the stories of each of her band mates and her family. It was all so connected and so fluid. It really made it easy to become immersed into this little Texas town. As much as I enjoyed Paisley and Paradise, I have to say that Paisley's mother's story really got me. Maybe it is because I am a parent. Maybe it is because I can relate to wanting more for your kids. I was able to take this story and turn it on myself. Do I push my kids too hard? Do I push too much of what I want onto them? Did I stop living my life to live my kids' life? Why do I want "more" for them? What is it that I 'don't' want for them? Am I allowing them to grow into who they really are or growing them into who I think they should be? It was really an eye opener for me. This is why, as a parent, I really enjoy YA. I learn a lot from it. I find there is something that I can take and turn into dialog to communicate with my teen and tween. Sometimes I even learn from it (just proving old dogs can learn new tricks). What I didn't love.I thought the cover wasn't good enough for the story. While it was a great cover, I felt it was too summer lusty, didn't really capture the characters or the story. Not enough edge for the book. What I REALLY didn't love (but really did).the ending. I felt cheated, angry, defeated. I mean this is the most complementing way to Jill Alexander. That was a story. Since reading PARADISE, I have seen where a lot of people were unhappy with the ending, but to me, it made the story. It made it very real. Even though it wasn't the ending I may have wanted, it made it a great story.
missy1029 More than 1 year ago
Paisley is the drummer in a band. Unfortunately it has to be kept secret because her mother would never approve. She thinks that by making it to Texapalooza and hopefully winning, she can prove to her mother that she is really good. The only problem is that their band lacks one very important thing, a lead singer. Enter Gabriela, or Paradise as Paisley likes to call him based on where he comes from. He's cocky, but he's good. So good that they believe they have a chance to win. I loved all the relationships that the characters had in this book. The blossoming romance between Paisley and Paradise. The understanding that Paisley has with her sister, Lacey. The unspoken honesty she shares with her dad. He knows she is in a band, but he is letting her wait for the time she wants to tell her mother. Paisley was so easy to relate to. Wanting to follow her dreams and being slightly afraid of consequences. What her mother would think or do. If it would ever get her out of her small town. She was slightly sarcastic and I loved her. What I really didn't like was the ending. There were several chapters there at the end that I really did not think were necessary. As much as I loved the book this kind of spoiled it for me. It didn't fit with the rest of the story in my mind. Of course I can't give any details, because that would give things away, but I was totally bummed. Overall it was a really great story. Unfortunately, due mostly to the ending, I have to give it a 3.5.