Title: The Vinyl Princess
Author: Yvonne Prinz
Publisher/ Release Date: HarperTeen (December 22, 2009)
# of Pages (Hardcover): 320
MSRP (Hardcover): $16.99
Summary (courtesy of Amazon): Summer is here, and 16-year-old Allie, a self-professed music geek, is exactly where she wants to be: working full-time at Berkeley’s ultra-cool Bob and Bob Records. There, Allie can spend her days bantering with the street people, talking the talk with the staff, shepherding the uncool bridge-and-tunnel shoppers, all the while blissfully surrounded by music, music, music. It’s the perfect setup for her to develop her secret identity as The Vinyl Princess, author of both a brand-new zine and blog. From the safety of her favourite place on earth, Allie is poised to have it all: love, music and blogging. Her mother, though, is actually the one getting the dates, and business at Allie’s beloved record store is becoming dangerously slow—not to mention that there have been a string of robberies in the neighbourhood. At least her blog seems to be gaining interest, one vinyl junkie at a time….
I know it's only about mid-year, but the Vinyl Princess is, hands-down, the best book I've read in 2010. I love everything about it: the characters, the setting, the countless musical references, and most importantly, the subject of vinyl and vinyl culture, and how it needs to be preserved. If we don't, we won't meet people like Allie, our protagonist, who knows everything you could ever want to know about music, looks like, according to her, "the child of Sid Vicious," and considers her thousands of LP's a modest collection- can we really afford to lose awesome people like this?
My favorite thing about this book was the characters. Heavy readers of YA chick-lit will recognize the character archetypes: the sharp, witty protagonist, the lovable (if, at times, ditzy) best friend, the guy who isn't what he seems, and the guy who has been there all along. But they aren't flat stereotypes- Prinz's characters are all painted wonderfully, with their own unique and engaging personalities. And side characters are cast aside and treated as plot devices, either, with each one carefully crafted- even the ones that don't do or say much speak volumes about Allie and her world.
I also loved the setting of Prinz's novel, Telegraph Avenue. Full of more hippies, "bridge-and-tunnel shoppers", and other unconventional populace than you've ever laid eyes on, Telegraph Avenue is a great reflection of the book overall: quirky, funny, and full of surprises.
But my very favorite thing about this book is the way music plays such a big part in it. Good music, too: Just flipping through this book, there's references to everyone from Bob Dylan to the Avett Brothers to the Beatles and Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen and... *takes a breath* Well, you get the point. Allie basically has the best taste in music ever. If you're an "audiophile", too, you might see references that remind you of an old favorite, and if you're don't know much about music, this book is practically a field guide to records.
Overall, in The Vinyl Princess, we find a funny, true voice that needs to be heard, one speaking out for indie record store culture and for the preservation of vinyl in general. Not only that, but it teaches our generation, living in the age of digital downloading, to love vinyl again. There book shows the beauty of the physical involvement in putting on a record, examining it breathlessly for scratches, and enjoying it like the girl on the cover: the waves of nostalgia, the familiarity of the crackling on a well-worn record. And there's something for everyone in this book: romance, music, fashion, drama, and a little bit of crime mystery, too. Read this book in your attic on an old bean bag chair with a stack of carefully selected records, and enjoy.