This book is just sweet, the kind I’d re-read over and over for no reason other than how it made me feel. The story is about Katy, who had to spend her summer with her dad, who is a drummer of an infamous punk band. Katy hated punk music. Actually, Katy didn’t enjoy most music. When her dad bribed Lake, the singer of an all-girl punk band, to hang out with Katy, it seemed like life couldn’t be any worse for her. The only thing about L.A. she was interested in was seeing the beach, and being near the ocean. Instead, Lake dragged Katy to guitar shops in the mall, band practice, and live shows. Lake nicknamed Katy “Beige” and made her help out by being merch girl for Lake’s band. At first, all Katy/Beige could think about was getting away and going home, but as time went on, she began to realize that she is not so beige after all.
Katy changed a lot throughout the novel – in the beginning she was irritating me by dismissing her father’s gift of a Daisy Rock guitar (I spent quite some time ogling them in guitar shops when I was in Japan – never seen one here), but by the end she was singing out loud to The Clash with her dad. The chapters are all titled after songs, presumably from the “punk primer” mix-cd that was given to Katy in the novel. The songs listed are great, and would be a decent primer for readers who are new to punk.
Beige is full of sweet, funny moments, and an interesting cast of characters. I really liked Katy’s dad, who was known as The Rat. I really liked Lake and Garth and wish I knew more people like them. A lot of the story deals with what is or what isn’t punk, although it never did once try to use only one definition of what it meant to be punk. In fact, the overall theme was being whoever you wanted to be. When Katy asked Lake what punk was about, Lake only said something to the effect of “that’s something you have to figure out yourself.” What made Katy “beige” to Lake was not that she wasn’t punk, but that she was hiding what she was really thinking and feeling while trying to seem polite and happy all the time. What made Katy “punk” at the end was not that she suddenly completely changed her personality, but that she finally learned to be herself and do things in her own way.
“My name is Sam Suck. And I have something to say. I stand for all that is true. I vow to be myself at all times. Speak out when I can. Not be afraid of repercussions of having a voice that might not be in accordance with the mainstream. I vow to think for myself. I vow to make sure that I am always asking questions. I will go my own way. I am unique. And I swear you are, too. So stand up and be heard. Stand up unafraid. We’re going to think out, speak out, act out for social change. Do not be afraid to declare yourself a punk. Everyone who is a thinking, feeling, questioning person who stands up for truth is a punk. I salute you.” (page 54/55)