Rummanah Aasi
Description: It is summer in Phoenix, and seventeen-year-old Maximo offers to help a Jordan, a fellow student in high school, with the food truck that belonged to Jordan's deceased father, and which may be the only thing standing between homelessness for Jordan and his mom; the boys are strongly attracted to each other, but as their romance develops it is threatened by the secrets they are hiding--and by the racism and homophobia of those around them.

Review: Maximo (who prefers to be called Max) is a popular high school athlete who spends most of his free time with his two best friends, playing video games and joking around. Max has a secret that he hasn't told anyone, not even his buddies, that makes his heart pound and his hands sweat. He is trying to be a man, a fighter his father raised him to be. A fighter pushes through the fear and pain.
    Jordan is an awkward, anxious, introverted teen who is attempting to help take care of his mom after the death of his father. He also dreams of striking out on his own, pursue a career in writing and be in a relationship. In order to save their home Jordan and his mom work on their food truck, but thing are not going according to plan. In fact neither Jordan nor his mom know how to run a food truck. Jordan hires Max to work the food truck with him, and two boys who thought they had nothing in common find that they are more alike than they thought.
   The Music of What Happens is a character driven story with an easy, conversational tone. The story is told from alternating points of views of Max and Jordan. Max is confident though he is afraid to show and talk about his feelings because that is not what a fighter does. Max grapples with understanding whether he has actually been raped and what he should do about it; the consequences of the rape also cause him to question the lessons his father taught him as a young child. While the author makes clear what happened to Max, the assault is not described in graphic detail. This topic of consent and rape are rarely mentioned between boys (or at least from the YA books that I have read thus far). Max also laughs off crude sexual jokes regarding promiscuity and homophobic slurs until he himself becomes woke and comfortable enough to have an honest talk with his friends. Jordan is struggling with self confidence and keeping his mother afloat. Oftentimes he ends up being the adult and she the child.
  We follow these boys as they uneasily become friends and into a budding romance along with getting to know their separate groups of friends. The plot is balanced nicely between heavier topics such as toxic masculinity, homophobia, racial microaggressions, consent, addiction, and sexual assault. None of these topics are heavy handed but they are also not sugar coated either. There are some truly heartbreaking moments that Max and Jordan go through, but ultimately it is an uplifting and relatable story.   

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, mentions of underage drinking, allusions to rape, crude sexual humor, and homophobic slurs. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Bloom by Kevin Panetta, Release by Patrick Ness
3 Responses
  1. Kindlemom Says:

    The friends to lovers trope is always a favorite. Glad this story had depth to it as well! Wonderful review!

  2. I don’t think I have read a book where males discuss topics like consent etc. Glad the author is calling attention to this topic!

  3. This sounds really good and important. There are a number of issues that it covers that could resonate with high school students.

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