Book Review: The Vinyl Underground


I love the cover of this book and when I read the blurb, I loved it even more. It’s not every day I read Historical Young Adult. After reading this book, I think I might dive into that sub-genre even more.

Dig it. During the tumultuous year of 1968, four teens are drawn together: Ronnie Bingham, who is grieving his brother’s death in Vietnam; Milo, Ronnie’s bookish best friend; “Ramrod,” a star athlete who is secretly avoiding the draft; and Hana, the new girl, a half-Japanese badass rock-n-roller whose presence doesn’t sit well with their segregated high school. The four outcasts find sanctuary in “The Vinyl Underground,” a record club where they spin music, joke, debate, and escape the stifling norms of their small southern town. But Ronnie’s eighteenth birthday is looming. Together, they hatch a plan to keep Ronnie from being drafted. But when a horrific act of racial-charged violence rocks the gang to their core, they decide it’s time for an epic act of rebellion.

Thank you to the publishers, Flux and NetGalley who approved my request to read and review this book. TVU comes out next year March 3rd, but I was lucky enough to snag it early!

"Only the unfamiliar can shake a sheep enough to jump outta the herd." - 83% into the book

For twenty-four chapters, it’s written at a good pace with a rising tension, conflict and resolution visible. Rufus does a good job constructing a novel with such controversial themes that’s still applicable in today’s society. Taking place in USA (1968) yet revolving around the Vietnam war and how our protagonist, Ronnie, deals with the death of his older brother, Bruce after being drafted and killed in the war. I loved how Rufus covered all the grief and problems that the characters go through, with pop culture. Hence, The Vinyl Underground. Music brought them together, it’s what still made them teenagers through the difficult times.

"It ain't easy being the only rose in an asshole parade." - 81% into the book

Hana, the Japanese girl is the key in the story. She brings out the racist slurs portrayed on Asians that time being assumed bad as the Vietnamese. Yet Hana is the character we need to shut up people like that! Any chance she got, she stood up and spoke her truth. Nothing got in her way. She was a bad bitch, the kind that you wanted to be like. In her leather jacket and cigarettes galore, nothing stopped her from speaking her mind.

"Gangs keep secrets from the world," she said, "not from each other." -

19% into the book

It was hard for me to picture Ronnie; it described him to have a gruff voice… other than that; I enjoyed the story from his eyes. The stages of grief, not only him but his father went through. It was important to see the father’s development as back then, fathers were very persistent to their sons doing the ‘manly’ thing for the pride and family. I loved that subplot of Ronnie not wanting to end up like his brother.

"I loved libraries, in general--they were the one place so many conflicting ideas could stand being next to each other. - 23% into the book

Milo and Lewis were the greatest friends! Ronnie’s dad was the coach, so he wasn’t exactly an outsider, he climbed the ladder of hierarchy thanks to his dad and Lewis being the captain. The friend group and connection between the three of them, including Hana was original. They each fought for what they believed in but still came together to help each other.

"Mothers can be sweet enough to break your heart, I thought. Then I let her go and turned away." - 3% into the book

It’s an inspirational story with strong themes and emotional characters. I hope I can purchase a copy and recommend it to everyone I know!

"Someplace close to your heart, I thought. I knew where to go. Closer to my heart than she could've imagined, directly to the center, right where it was cracked." - 95% into the book

#ireadya #bookcover #prettycovers #reviewer #reader #kindle #ebooks #themes #characters #ownvoices #ebook #netgalley #earlyrelease #ARC #contemporary #historicalfiction #youngadult #yafiction #yareads #fluxbooks

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