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Notes From an Accidental Band Geek Hardcover – September 1, 2011
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“It has humor, heart, and a touch of romance that will provide ample fodder for booktalks.” — School Library Journal
“Marching-band kids everywhere will enjoy this believable celebration of a life-changing, musical rite of passage.” — Kirkus
About the Author
Erin Dionne writes humorous books with heart for tweens. Her titles--which are very long--have been named to several state reading lists, ALA lists, and have received some nice attention. They include MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET, and NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL BAND GEEK. Her latest novel, MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING:A 14 DAY MYSTERY, has the longest title yet and is based on the real-life Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist. She spends an inappropriate amount of time on Facebook, teaches writing at Montserrat College of Art, and lives outside of Boston with her husband, two children, and a very indignant dog.
Top customer reviews
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Elsie Wyatt is a great twist on the classic fish-out-of-water story, a classic orchestra kid who's forced to join marching band to show "ensemble diversity" for her elite music camp application. Her marching band life is a story of baptism by fire (On the first day, she drops her hat with the big fluffy plume, inspiring the entire band to chant "Chicken down" song at her until she starts clucking.) Things don't get any more dignified from there.
This is a hilarious book that celebrates the best of marching band life in ways that had me both laughing out loud and getting goosebumps, remembering what it was like to be part of something so big and loud and awesome for all those years. And on top of all that, it's a tender, sweet, and funny story about family dynamics (Elsie's dad is a symphony horn player), making friends, first crushes, and figuring out who you really are.
Never trust 12 year old girls
Especially when it comes to books.
I asked for this book for my birthday and it was the worst decision of my life. The main character Elsie Wyatt was a terrible human being, her love interest Jake (who she declares her boyfriend after two kisses) and her friends Sarah, and Hector are pretty bland along with her band mate Punk (he's the only band kid other than the three listed above who actually talks to her, wonder why), she treats her parents terribly, and her band is just one big ball of weird. When I got this book I thought I wouldn't get like 95% of this book because I'm not into instruments and stuff like that, it turns out I didn't get 95% of this book because it was not a great book. I have "The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet" and my expectations were WAY too high. It took me four months to finish this book (two if you count those months I didn't read it) and I had to sit through 42 chapters and a coda just to write this review.
I'll explain all the things I can remember from the book.
Elsie Wyatt is 13 and starting band camp, she wants to beat her dad and her grandfather and get into this really good music school called Shining Birches at 13 instead of her early 20s-late 20s like her family did. Elsie feels like an outcast because her parents put her in first grade when she was five making her the youngest girl for the rest of her school life. So she goes to band camp and because she dropped her hat as soon she got it she is now forever called "Chicken" (all from a hat? Real mature guys). There she meets Sarah, Hector, and Jake. So after an intense practice, we skip to September and it's Elsie's first day of high school (seven chapters in and she's already picking on her parents). As soon as she steps through the door of Hehe (because for some reason, these kids never call it by it's real name, Henry Herbert) things go downhill. She can't find her first class and this kid named Punk (poor kid) has to help her. So then we find out the real nature of Elsie's friends, Hector is always asking about a movie's soundtrack, Sarah's always obsessing over fashion, and Jake's just...there. So they're first show is coming up and they can wear half of their uniforms (I'm not sure if that's allowed in marching bands) and it goes fine. Seeing as Halloween is coming up, the gang decides to go as the Muppets, Elsie is stuck with going as Miss Piggy. Right before the Halloween dance there's a football game and the band goes. The Minutemen (a band from another high school) is getting their pictures taken and the bleacher collapses. Everybody is going into hysterics but the show must go on. After words when everybody is about to go on the bus Elsie's parents decide to drive her home. This then causes Elsie to have a temper tantrum like a two year old, and get this, her parents don't ground her! What kind of parents are they? If I ever did that I would be in SO much trouble. Anyway, her mom is like "Oh give her a chance, she's just a kid..." and her dad's like "You are everything I thought you wouldn't be!" and Elsie just gets away with acting like a total brat. A few days before the Halloween dance, Elsie goes to Sarah's to decorate their costumes and she and Jake accidentally touch fingers making her go into this psychotic mode saying that it causes "sparks" or whatever (with a guy as bland as Jake, I would have felt skin not "sparks"). So finally the Halloween dance starts and Elsie is not in the best of moods because of the whole bus situation from earlier in the story. During a song Punk pulls Elsie to the dance floor and they do this weird fisherman/fish dance. After the song's over instead of having fun for once Elsie gets angry at Punk and throws yet another temper tantrum. Punk gets offended (if he didn't he would be weird) and gives her the cold shoulder. This then makes her friends realize that Elsie's not a good person (after like, what? 98 pages?) and stop talking to her. During a practice AJ (their leader) announces that the Hellcats have taken the Minutemen's spot in the Darcy's (instead of Macy's) Thanksgiving parade. Everyone is excited, but poor Elsie doesn't have her friends anymore. She finally gets to talk to Punk and he forgives her (that was easy). But with Hector, Sarah, and Jake? Not much luck (because they're smart). Meanwhile, Elsie and her dad get into a fight and they stop talking to each other. After talking to her friends again they forgive her (and I actually had hope for this story). Since the Thanksgiving parade is coming up, the band practices a lot. Finally the day comes and Elsie is nervous for two reasons
1. Her Shining Birches audition is in less than three days
2. She has a solo.
During the ride she gets stuck in the bathroom thanks to Punk and Steve, and she has to crawl out through a window (the door knob came out off on the back of the door, couldn't they just open the door through the front?). That night they go to a hotel in New Jersey and they sleep until 3 AM (filming for the parade). During the bus ride Elsie and Jake share their first kiss (insert the "sparks") and then kiss again. Once they arrive in New York everyone does their thing and Elsie does fine during her solo until the last four notes when she notices the Shining Birches guy sitting smack dab in the middle of the review stand. She feels bad but then cheers up when her friends and boyfriend (once again, they only kissed TWICE) tell her she did fine. Elsie goes home and clears everything up with her dad. Yay, happy ending, we didn't see that coming at all! So in the coda, Elsie decides not to go (which totally defeats the purpose of the book) and decides to stay with the band for as long as she can. In the very back of the book we find out that Erin Dionne was a band geek herself
I so hope she didn't base Elsie off of herself.
And that was "Notes From an Accidental Band Geek". Why did I pick this book? I don't know, and now I lost all hope in Erin Dionne. Now here are a few things I want to address
CODEPENDENCY: In one of the earlier chapters Elsie's friends want to go to this place called "Chilly spoon" (which I guess is a chain restaurant in Erin Dionne's world because that was the main hang out for Hamlet and her friends in TTOFAGNH). Elsie declines and they're disappointed. DISAPPOINTED! They had spent all day with her, and now they want to be around her for even longer? Dude!
The kiss: This was really unnecessary. First, it just came out of nowhere, and in the most awkward place too. On the bus where everyone sitting in the seat behind Jake and Elsie and every single person in the row next to then could see. Why is this weird you ask? Because everyone had gotten some sleep back in the hotel which means that some of the kids would have had trouble going back to sleep and probably witnessed the whole thing thanks to the street lights. And then after the second kiss Elsie declares him her boyfriend. I'm sorry, but I can't get over that! Elsie, you spent 41 chapters with this boy and you still find him interesting enough to call your boyfriend? Like, there is something wrong with this girl! What happens when they do start dating? Will she declare him her husband after two days of being boyfriend and girlfriend? Like what is going on?
Elsie: If I ever saw you in real life, I would run the other way so fast you would think that I saw a zombie. Throughout the entire book I was expecting her to go crazy! During the chapter when Hector and Sarah don't pair up with her one girl says "I'll be partners with you Elise!" and Elsie yells "It's ELSIE." and that was not only rude, but scary. In the same chapter when Elsie is trying to apologize to Sarah and Hector this girl snickers and Elsie said, and I quote,
I wanted to stab my pencil in her neck.
She wanted to stab her pencil, IN A GIRL'S NECK! And she didn't even know this girl! And guess what? Elsie doesn't have a mental disorder, she doesn't have any sickness, she is just a terrible human being! So in this story you're either bland, a doormat, or evil, there's no in between. Then her temper tantrums! She got angry when Punk did something nice for her, she got mad when her parents decided to be parents for once and do something, she got angry at her friends when they wanted her to be Miss Piggy, yet she still won! What? Did the author's boss tell her to give Elise a happy ending, no matter how bratty she is, or she was fired? I seriously think that's why Elsie won in the end. In real life, Elsie would have lost all of her friend, be grounded for the rest of eternity, and get kicked off of the team.
I can go on for hours, but I rather not. I give this story a 1/5 stars, I'm very disappointed, and won't be reading this book again.