Review + Giveaway: My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros (Blog Tour)

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

If Life Was Like a Song

Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.”

Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer.

Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..

Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.

Title: My Year of Epic Rock
Author: Andrea Pyros
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Publication date: September 2, 2014

I received My Year of Epic Rock from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had forgotten when I sat down to read My Year of Epic Rock that it’s a middle grade book. I was pleasantly surprised because I’m on a middle grade kick right now but I haven’t actually read one in a few weeks.

Nina’s just beginning to realize that her best friend Brianna has ditched her for a cooler girl when seventh grade starts. At first Nina attempts to hang out with Brianna and Shelley, but she doesn’t understand their inside jokes and it’s not long before it becomes clear to her that she’s being excluded. It’s been just Nina and Brianna for so long, and now Nina is friendless.

How come no one ever sings a song about a friend leaving you for a newer friend? This has to hurt as much as a romance ending, right?

At home, Nina spends a lot of time crying and moping around because who wouldn’t (or hasn’t) when faced with that situation? Of course I felt sorry for her, losing her best (and only close) friend, but Nina is resilient. At school, she soon finds herself spending her lunchtime at the table with kids for allergies, just for lack of any other options. Nina herself is allergic to peanuts and eggs (and other foods, I think, but those are the big ones) and her new group gets it. They all have certain foods to avoid, too. One day she jokingly suggests that they form a band to perform at the Halloween talent show and the next day she’s the drummer.

As the band struggles to find its groove, Nina discovers that her new friends, who are kids she’s actually known for years, are a fun group. They each have their own strengths, and conveniently play the correct variation of instruments to make up a band. Some of them are maybe a little weird, but they make her feel comfortable right away. She fits in better with them than she ever did with Brianna, and to her surprise, she has a lot of fun with them.

All of the characters, from Nina to her friends (new and old), to her parents and younger brother are realistic. They’re people I might know, or have known in middle school. Nina’s parents embarrass her, her brother is annoying, and while Shelley and Brianna are mean girls, they’re not Mean Girls. In fact, they don’t seem hugely popular either. Their Halloween party is well-attended, but I didn’t get the idea that they had a big following otherwise.

Nina’s experience is something most of us can relate to in one way or another. Maybe we didn’t all join bands to make new friends, but we’ve all lost friends and had to find new ones. Kids in middle grade or younger now who read My Year of Epic Rock will be able to see that it’s not the end of the world, even if it sometimes feels like it.

4 stars
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Sourcebooks is providing one copy of My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros for a giveaway.

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Andrea Pyros has worked as a magazine editor, celebrity interviewer, and cookie wrangler. A native of New York City, Andrea now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two children, one of whom has food allergies and the other of whom refuses to eat eggs even though he can. Visit www.andreapyros.com.

Jenna