I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 1/27/2015
Publisher: Soho Press
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: historical fiction, 1960s, music business, racial issues
Format read: ARC paperback provided by Soho Press. (Thanks!)
Summary: The summer after high school graduation and her start at Columbia, JJ gets a job working for a small music publisher with the hope she can make her dreams of making music come true — with or without the support of her lawyer parents.
JJ Greene is kind of the black sheep in her uber successful family and not because she isn’t smart (she graduated from high school at 16 — two years early). Both her parents are lawyers and her older brother is following the same track. JJ has always been fascinated by the music business and writing her own songs for as long as she can remember. Instead of spending the summer filing at her mom’s law office, JJ gets a job working for a music publishing company where she’ll be doing admin but also have a chance to share her music with the owner.
It’s no surprise that JJ’s family shies away from the music biz; JJ’s mother is estranged from her own brother, also in music, but a no-good gambler who has been known to take the credit for other people’s work. Luckily, her family agrees to drop the law talk for the 3 months that JJ will be working for Good Music Publishing. If she can’t get one of her songs recorded during her time there, she promises to never bring up music again.
Her gig at Good Music Publishing is definitely an eyeopening one from her rekindled relationship with her Uncle Bernie (a secret from her mother), her late night jamming sessions with Dulcie, an ex-music star and current office cleaning woman, and her crush on the green-eyed boy she always seems in the elevator. For the first time ever, JJ is able to connect with people over music and not feel like she is silly for loving it so much. While her knowledge of the business grows, so do her own talents.
But a surprising wrench thrown into this feel-good book manifests into a whodunit subplot that I was not expecting. I didn’t mind it, and it kept me guessing (I almost guessed right) but it also made a few of the puzzle pieces click a bit too precisely into place for me. I’m Glad I Did certainly illuminated the rougher sides of musical success and didn’t steer away from the complexities of interracial relationships. While the book felt a bit on the younger side of young adult, I enjoyed my quick trip to 1963 New York City and following along as JJ experienced one memorable summer.
Bonus: I could easily picture I’m Glad I Did as a stage musical (think Hairspray meets Memphis!). Someone get on this!