The Victoria in My Head

The Victoria in My Head

by Janelle Milanes


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A shy, rule-following teen winds up joining a local rock band in this laugh-out-loud, heartfelt coming-of-age novel.

Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481480895
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Janelle Milanes is the author of The Victoria in My Head and Analee, in Real Life. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two cats. Her favorite Disney princess is Belle, since she was also a big book nerd.

Read an Excerpt

The Victoria in My Head

I can predict my life with scary accuracy. I know my morning will start with a piece of toast for breakfast, slathered in peanut butter and topped with sliced banana. After breakfast I’ll get on the downtown A train and put on a perfectly timed playlist for my twenty-three minute commute to school. I’ll meet my best friend, Annie Lin, at my locker, and we’ll go to first period with Mr. Davis and stare at his mustard-yellow pit stains for forty-five minutes. I’ll have cross-country practice after school, where Coach B will make us run six miles along the murky Hudson River. At home, Mom will make spaghetti for dinner, and my bratty little brother, Matty, will complain that the tomato sauce is too chunky.

I’m not psychic. My life is just that boring. Every day moves like a treadmill, a straight line without fluctuation.

I shouldn’t complain. I know it could be much worse. But when I really think about it, I realize that every day of my life is exactly the same, and it’ll continue to be the same as it was yesterday, and the day before that, until the end of high school.

Until, suddenly, it isn’t.

Across a sea of plaid uniforms on the opposite side of the sophomore hall, I see him, and the treadmill that is my life comes to a grinding halt.

“Hello?” Annie snaps her fingers at me. Her black hair is swept off her forehead by a satin headband that perfectly matches her pleated skirt. “What’s with the face?”

“What face?” I reply. I have no awareness of what my face is doing. You know how in movies, when a girl sees a halfway-decent-looking guy and all of time stops and this wah wah indie song plays and it’s so dumb because she doesn’t even know the guy and that never happens in real life?

“You’re blushing,” Annie says with a frown, following my gaze.

It happens to me when I see this boy. Cue the soft, strumming guitar, the thumping drums, an airy falsetto in the background.

He’s stapling a flyer onto the bulletin board, and when he lifts his arms to push into the stapler, I catch a glimpse of what I imagine to be soft cotton boxer-briefs peeking out from his pants. With his slouchy posture and tangled hair, he looks nothing like the preppy breed usually found at this school. He’s . . . messier. Different. And yes, indisputably gorgeous, but that’s not the point.

Annie thrusts her watch into my field of vision, effectively blocking my view of the pretty boy. “Helloooo. We’re going to be late.”

This is Annie’s mantra. She’s punctual to a fault, while I’m in no rush to snag a front row seat for Mr. Davis’s underarm sweat.

“I’ll meet you there,” I say, blinking myself awake. “I forgot something in my locker.”

“What did you forget?”

“My, um . . . snargenblag,” I mumble.

“Your what?”

The warning bell shrieks overhead, which sends Annie into a panic. “Come on, Vi!”

“Go ahead. I’ll meet you there,” I assure her, and she gives me a final disapproving scowl before hurrying to math.

All at once the hallway drains as students swarm to their first period classes, but the boy doesn’t rush. As he steps back to admire his handiwork, I inch toward him. I’m not entirely sure what my master plan is, but I have to know what’s on this flyer. I have to know more about him.

He turns his head and looks right at me as soon as I reach him, like I tripped a sensor.

Holy sweet Jesus, his eyes. Those were unexpected. His eyes are the stuff of those Harlequin romances Mom reads, the kind of eyes that are always compared to something cheesy, like a midwinter sky. Annie and I used to sneak the books into my room and pore over passages about tight breeches and ripping bodices.

The thing about this boy’s eyes, though? They are the color of a midwinter sky, which I didn’t think was possible in reality.

“Do you sing?” His voice echoes through the empty hallway.

I stare at him, my brain officially a useless lump. “Huh?”

Ugh. Get a freaking grip, Victoria. I’m not one to turn into a puddle of idiocy when I see a cute guy. I’m better than that. Usually.

He nods toward the flyer he’s posted. It’s simple—black Sharpie against stark white computer paper. In large block print it says:




“Oh,” I manage, brilliantly. I can’t process the fact that a school like Evanston has other people like him, people who do things besides study and play lacrosse and run for student council. “Um . . . no.”

“Maybe you should try.” He twirls his stapler around and snaps it shut with one hand like some pistol-packing cowboy. It’s weirdly hot.

The final bell rings. He and I are officially late for class, but neither one of us moves.

I should fess up at this point. I should let him know that I am way too boring to be a lead singer. I should let him know that I can barely speak, let alone sing, in front of people. I should also let him know that there is no way, under any circumstances, my overprotective Cuban parents would let me join a band.

“Okay,” I blurt out instead of these important things he should know. Then, without another word, I bolt.

*  *  *

Mom studies me as we sit around the dinner table that night. “You okay? You look pale.”

“I’m fine.” I twirl some overcooked spaghetti noodles around my fork and silently refuse to go into any more detail. It’s helpful to remember my Miranda rights when it comes to dinner with my family. Anything I say can and will be used against me.

“Are you sick?” Matty asks me, his eyes lighting up with interest. “Are you gonna puke?”

“Eat your food,” Dad tells him.

Matty pokes at his pile of noodles. “I think I’m sick too.”

We all ignore him. Matty will do anything to get out of eating dinner, unless it’s one of the three meals that he tolerates: mac and cheese, pizza, or peanut butter sandwiches (no crust, hold the jelly). Sameness doesn’t seem to affect him yet. Actually, he thrives on it.

“Maybe I’ll make you a doctor’s appointment,” Mom says to me.

“I’m fine, Mom. Really.”

“You don’t look fine.”

“I just have a lot on my mind.”

“Are you depressed?” Mom asks, her voice rising. She eyes me with intensity. Ever since I bought a vintage Nirvana T-shirt last week, Mom has been on teen suicide watch. It’s ridiculous.

“Of course she’s not depressed,” Dad says, speaking right through me. “What does she have to be depressed about?”

“Can I have a sandwich?” Matty asks. He pushes his plate away in disgust.

“You can eat spaghetti like the rest of us,” Mom informs him.

“But I don’t like spaghetti.”

Dad points his fork at me. “Did you eat any dairy today?”

“Dairy?” I echo. I’m not fully here at the dinner table. I’ve been replaying the scene with the blue-eyed boy all day, wishing I had said something smarter, or funnier, or anything at all. I should have at least asked him his name.

“Yes. Dairy,” Dad says. “Maybe at breakfast?”

Since he found out he was lactose intolerant, Dad believes dairy to be the root of all evil. In his opinion, it’s the underlying cause of every malady known to man. He can’t even look at a cow without a vein popping out of his neck.

“I had toast for breakfast,” I reply absentmindedly.

He scratches the stubble on his chin. “What about lunch? You’re always eating pizza for lunch.”

“I’m making an appointment with Dr. Ferber,” Mom decides.

“Fine,” I concede, hoping it will shut them both up.

Of course it doesn’t. Nothing does.

“I know you all insist on eating dairy,” Dad continues, “but it’s been linked to heart disease, diabetes—”

“Mrs. Soldera told us that milk is good for your bones,” Matty pipes up.

“Mrs. Soldera is an idiot.”

“Jorge . . . ,” Mom cautions, pouring herself a glass of wine.

“Whatever.” Matty’s ten-year-old body heaves a weary sigh. “Can I have dessert now?”

We go through this every night. Practically word for word.

Mom closes her eyes and massages her forehead. “Matty, you didn’t even touch your dinner. Jorge?”

“Eat your dinner, Matty,” Dad says automatically. He’s already wolfed down his entire plate of spaghetti, sopping up every drop of sauce with a bread roll.

“At least ten more bites,” Mom adds.

“But the sauce is too chunky!” Matty slams his fist against the table, and my parents go bug-eyed.

“Ten cuidado,” Dad warns. “Listen to your mother or you’ll go to bed hungry.”

They continue to argue back and forth, Matty trying to haggle his way out of dinner and Mom and Dad crushing each attempt. In about ten minutes one of them will cave and fix him a sandwich. This is the Cruz family dinner experience, every night at seven.

I stare down at my fork and contemplate sticking it through my eye.

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The Victoria in My Head 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
BoundlessBookaholic More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one a lot! I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Thanks to Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program for providing me a copy in exchange for a honest review. Books that focus on music are definitely my jam, and this one is no exception. I’m pretty sure some people might have problems relating with the main character, but I loved her. Maybe because I feel like we were almost the same back when I was her age, except I didn’t have the kind of friends she did. The group of people in this book were excellent overall! I loved Strand (I’d definitely fangirl over him), Annie, Krina, Matty, and even Victoria’s parents (Gloria and Jorge). This book made me laugh some, and even made me emotional at certain parts; I love when books can do both! The ending was really good, and made me hopeful for this group and what’s to come. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that the last several chapters were some of my favorite. Like my heart couldn’t handle the cuteness, and wanted to burst with joy. I can’t wait to see what else this debut author comes out with! I recommend this book for all YA contemporary lovers. Go read this one people! It made me feel like a teenager all over again. This isn’t really relevant to my feels, but there are song titles for each of the chapters, and it made me want to go listen to each of them (56 in total). I think it would be really cool to listen to the songs as you’re reading the chapters, if noise doesn’t distract you. One last thing: I love Victoria’s playlists; I’m kind of jealous that she can do that so easily!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The-Broke-Book-Bank More than 1 year ago
REASONS TO READ THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD: Victoria is relatable, studious, rocker trapped behind anxiety and familial pressure. She’s on track for Harvard. Has playlists for every event, occasion, and fantasy. Her BFF Annie is much the same, wants a change from the same old routine but has to push Victoria to do it for herself and progresses on her own path. You know how in Disney, there’s always a shot of the guy falling for the girl? Well, here we get it from the Victoria’s perspective. But she doesn’t let looks overrule her common sense. I was so proud of her!! Victoria doesn’t like Strand the playboy or let him slide and calls him out on his BS. That’s my girl! Love how the romance plays out and ends in unexpected ways. Very understandable, confused with growing pains, but wonderful maturity and resolution. Perfect way to go out. Great honest worries and concerns about body image, dating, hooking up, and keeping up with your peers. Rumors and assumptions play a big role with a side plot with another bandmate and I love how it’s all dealt with. Underage drinking and sneaking out. Okay, that sounds bad, but it happens. They do things responsibly. It’s not the end of the world. And it’s not preachy after school special either. Such a turnoff for kids. FUNNY! Oh my lord. I’m the type that has to look away/turn away from second hand embarrassment, but this book just made me laugh and didn’t turn my stomach with their antics. Cutlet. Rep included: Anxiety (Victoria), Daughter of Cuban Immigrants (Victoria), Eclectic Cast: Indian, Biracial, Asian, and only 1 white dude while the rest of the white people are in the background, Lesbian Couple. It’s Latinx Heritage Month! Victoria has to be apart of her cousins Quince and gets closer with her male dance partner and they discuss the tradition. Find out more by reading it now! The Victoria In My Head is perfect for YA contemp fans looking for an adorbs romantic-comedy especially if you’d like a coming of age story with intelligent prep school kids soon to be rocker stars.
ahyperboliclife More than 1 year ago
I love books with music. I find that they’re always fun and guarantee a good time. This one is no different. We follow shy girl Victoria Cruz as she combats the monotony of her daily life by joining a band. We see Victoria’s personal and get to rock out along side her. Things I Liked: Victoria is a really relatable character. She’s bored with the monotony of her life and starts to want more, hence the band. She feels pressured by her family to get into a great school because that’s what they want for her. She experiences many firsts - boyfriend, kiss, detention - and we’re along for the ride. She is so very human. She makes mistakes and has regrets, but she also wants more but feels stuck. I LOVED the music in the story. The band aspect was fun and really helped Victoria come out of her shell. Even beyond that she has a love for music that was great to see. I also loved that the chapter titles were songs. It created an instant playlist for the book - something I’m sure Victoria would love! Things I Didn’t Like: While I did think Victoria was a relatable character, she was also a little unlikeable to me too. Basically I had mixed feelings about her. She was immature at times and a little over the top with the teen angst. She is also a little self-involved, which I guess is a pretty typical teenager response to life, but it did make me like her a little less. I wanted more at the end of the story. I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied. I wanted to know what was going to happen with the band moving forward - now that Victoria has went after what she really wants; what is she going to do about college; and is she going to be more open with her parents? I would have liked to get a few more answers before the story closed. This was a fun book that was a breeze to get through. I loved exploring Victoria’s firsts alongside her, even though she was frustrating at times, and the music was a highlight for sure. I’m happy that I liked the book enough to want more, and I think this is a fantastic debut from Janelle Milanes I received a copy of the book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.