Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Emily's Book Review: Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

Supergirl Mixtapes is the story of Maria Costello, a sixteen year old girl who leaves the comfort and familiarity of her small South Carolina town to reunite with her free-spirited artist mother in New York City.  Though Maria has always felt stifled by life in the South, her father and grandmother have never allowed her to move north, fearing her mother’s irresponsible nature and general instability. When she finally gets to New York, Maria learns a lot about the excitement of city life with its late night diners, vintage record stores, and flirtatious NYU students—and about the demons hiding in her mom’s closet.  Her adventure in the city starts by her mother leaving her at the train station for twelve hours and quickly progresses into the family moving to an apartment above a famous Brooklyn strip club.  Plenty of music and mixtape-making is woven throughout the story.

Supergirl Mixtapes is the kind of book that is totally absorbing, the kind you scheme ways to get back to once you have to put it down.  I loved the way Brothers wrote about New York City, capturing it as a living entity full of the music her character loves.  I also loved Maria herself.  She’s shy, but she’s confident.  She faces the normal uncertainties of adolescence, but (as her mom and her mom’s young boyfriend often reflect) she’s far more “together” than an ordinary sixteen year-old.  I loved watching her navigate New York with far more confidence than I could probably muster now, while still being naïve about many of her mom’s obvious problems.  I felt for her because she didn’t have a supportive or even stable home life, but I was proud of her for succeeding as well as she did.  Plus, Maria is simply cool—cool enough to make mixtapes for her friend Dory back home, cool enough to hang out and drink sweet tea with Southern college kids in New York, and cool enough to take care of herself when her parents don’t.

I would recommend Supergirl Mixtapes to anyone who loves music, the punk scene, or New York City—or to any teen who has felt less than mainstream at some point in her life. 

Fun Fact: The author of Supergirl Mixtapes grew up in Spartanburg and now lives in New York City.

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