It’s been a major struggle for me to read in the last three and a half months as I’m sure it’s been for some of y’all too. Thanks to Carolyn (howlsmovingbookstagram on instagram) and her most recent readathon, it pushed me to read one book all the way through and not give up.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsburg is an LGBTQ+ YA novel that tackles some big topics like rape, panic attacks, microaggressions, and gambling addiction. I wasn’t expecting this to be such a heavy book, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything was handled. This is a book about what it means to be a man, what it means to be gay, and what it means to live in a world that tries to tell you how you should be.
Max is a chill guy that plays baseball and loves hanging with his two best buddies. He’s always been told that he “needs to warrior up” when bad things happen and don’t let them bother him. When he has an uncomfortable run in with a college guy, he’s left reeling dealing with the aftermath.
Jordan is the opposite of chill. He has his “wives” (Pam and Kayla) who love doing makeovers on him and his dog, Dorcas, and he’s never been kissed. When his mom has a semi-public outburst on the family food truck, things start to spiral.
This book alternates chapters between Max’s and Jordan’s point of view. You see Max dealing with his friends microaggressions against him being half-Mexican and gay, his dad not knowing how to be a dad, and him dealing with toxic thoughts of what a man should be. You also see Jordan dealing with being the caretaker in his house because his mom gave up after his dad died and how that has damaged his self-esteem and self-worth. His mom gambled away their mortgage money and it was up to Jordan to earn it back on the food truck. This brings us to the fateful meet-cute.
I don’t exactly have experience with any of the things either boy went through except maybe microaggressions for being queer and a woman, but my family has had it’s share of loss due to gambling addiction. My dad grew up with horses and doing rodeos. I had always wondered why he didn’t inherit the horses and land he grew up on. Come to find out it’s because my grandpa had a gambling problem and lost all their money and nearly lost them their house too.
In the end Max and Jordan helped each other be better people. Max is this macho guy who didn’t allow himself to be vulnerable and Jordan was more vulnerable but didn’t think he was capable of being tougher. The best thing about having the two perspectives is you get the inner dialogue of each boy. Knowing that Max thinks Jordan is beautiful from the time they meet at the food truck and knowing that Jordan thinks Max is perfect helps really round the characters out. You really see the growth each one of them makes by the end of the book and even though Jordan’s mom gambled away all their money and the food truck gets repo’d, things are more or less okay in the end because they helped each other grow.
I’m glad I read this one even though I was caught off guard by just how heavy it could be at times. I highly recommend picking this one up!