I have to admit that the only reason I picked this book up was the title. “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” is a song by Sleater-Kinney – one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands. I figured that a book titled after it should be interesting, if nothing else.
This novel is about Emily Black, who was raised by her ex-musician father after her mother abandoned them when she was a baby. She was raised on music, and became obsessed with punk music in particular as she grew into her teens. At first she kept fooling around with the guys in the bands she watches, craving the energy and the music. Emily and her best friend, Regan later start their own band, She Laughs. Through the songs that she writes, it is obvious that Emily never got over the fact that her mother left. When she was young, she was told that her mother left to “follow the music”, so it seems like subconsciously she was trying to get closer to her mother through her music.
This story is about the relationship between Emily, her father Michael and her mother Louisa. It’s about her friendship with Regan. It’s about the sexism and double standards in the music scene. It’s about rock & roll dreams of making it big. It’s about good relationships and destructive relationships. It’s about being scared to be happy, and realising that you have to try to be happy anyway. It’s even about punk music, even though the musical references in the story is almost nonexistent, contrary to what I expected from the title.
I love this novel, but I don’t know how much of it is because it’s a good novel, and how much of it is because it hits me on a personal level. I really loved Emily Black, and wish that I could read more about her. I guess as a coming-of-age novel, this is exactly my cup of tea. (I really feel like re-reading this or Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist now!)
I wanted something that you could feel in your throat when you played it loud, something that churned through your stomach and shook you to the tips of your toes. Something that scraped out your insides and made you want to dance without them. Just as I searched for the steepest hill to ride my bike down, I hunted for music that would provide the greatest thrill. (page 9)