Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Thursday, August 8, 2013

Plot Summary:
Leo Caraway had a bright future ahead of him. He got into Harvard will a full-ride, President of the Young Republicans Club, and he was going places. However, beneath the straight-laced and hard-working exterior, is a an animal inside that he inherited from his biological father: Marion X. McMurphy. After years of suppressing McMurphy, he is on the verge of melt down when his best friend, Melinda, asked him to tutor, Owen, the the "smartest" and gayest guy in school. Granted, Owen should not need tutoring, but Leo couldn't say no to Melinda who was a punk rock force to be reckoned with and best friend. Leo and Melinda have known each all of their lives; in fact, their father's used to work together until Melinda's father suddenly died of a heart attack. Although Melinda lost her father at a young age, Leo could never say no to her because he had a mother and father who loved him very much, even if Leo's father is his adopted father. During the math final exam, Leo noticed Owen struggling during his test and, as much as it aggravated him that Owen didn't know how to solve the problems they had been studying, he decided to say something to Owen during the test and was then accused of cheating. What should have been a simple reprimand, and the fact that he wasn't going to allow his homophobic principal use him to kick Owen out of school, Leo thought everything would be okay. Unfortunately, his decision to stand up for someone who was about to get railroaded by the school principal put his future at Harvard in jeopardy. Not willing to except this fate, Leo decided to do the thing he has been dreading all his life: contact his father, Marion X. McMurphy (aka. King Maggot) the lead singer of Purge, and ask him for money. Desperate times called for desperate measures and Leo is now a roadie for Purge. However, when Leo meets his father for the first time, he saw someone completely different than what he saw Purge's website. Is it possible that King Maggot may not be the wild beast that everyone adores? Seriously? Who would have thought that the President of the Young Republicans Club is actually Prince Maggot?

Critical Evaluation:
O-M-G! I thought this story was hilarious! Although this story wasn't as "hard-core" as I wanted it to be, Korman's wit is not only quick, but the dialogue he uses really bring the characters to life. In this story, a preppy guy not only learns he has the blood of the "Punk Rock Elvis" in his veins, he actually has the audacity to become a roadie to get money from the father he never knew. Honestly, if I learned that my father was this underground punk rock idol, I would be tickled pink! However, there is much more going on then we think because Leo's conception wasn't exactly planned and the fact that his mother was ashamed to tell him about his father makes readers crave for more. Korman's story takes readers on a fun ride where a uptight teenager learns a lot about people and that sometimes we cannot judge people based on how the look (aka. Melinda and Maggot). Furthermore, it's the people who we assume to be greatest and the most normal that we should be worried about because if one small thing goes out of place, they are waiting in the shadows to strike. Billy Hammond, the narrator of this audiobook, provides pretty decent characterizations of all of the main characters; I was kinda hoping that Leo would have sounded a little more teenager-ish and Hammond could have put a little bit more energy into the moments where things go absolutely wrong.  I really did enjoy the musical interludes (although not very Punk-like) between chapters and the SOUND EFFECTS! I have never, ever heard sound effects (i.e.,noises to convey a PDA, internet discussion board, and phone calls). This was probably the most entertaining part of the audiobook because it informs readers that they are actually making progress. The audiobook is five CD's and they go by pretty quick (I got through one whole disc in thirty minutes). Born to Rock is a fun book to read, or listen, to so if you want to see, or hear, about Leo's summer, get ready for a shock that no one saw coming!

Information about the Author:
According to Gordon Korman's website:
Gordon Korman was born October 23, 1963 in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. He wrote his first book, This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall when he was 12 years old for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English … he later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in the Sixth Grade Nickname Game, where Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.
His first book found a home with Scholastic, who also published his next 20 or so books, including six more Bruno and Boots titles, and several award winning young adult titles, among them my personal favorite, Son of Interflux. Scholastic still publishes many of Gordon's titles, though Hyperion Press is also now printing some of Gordon's stories.
Gordon eventually made one of his homes in New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he also met his future wife, and they eventually married -- they now have three children. He now lives on Long Island, outside of New York City, has approximately 70 books to his credit, and is currently contracted for several more.

Teen Audiobooks

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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