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.
I think this might be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year!
This book is one of those that, when you read it, you can truly feel the music. It’s the story of a small revolution, and, considering the state of the United States right now, it’s timely despite the over 50 year gap.
Ronnie’s life is just go to school, wrestle, work with his best friend Milo at the theatre, come home, get high, and listen to his dead brother Bruce’s albums. Bruce was shipped off to Vietnam, throwing a wrench in his and Ronnie’s plans to head to Los Angeles to be radio djs. All Ronnie has left are his letterman jacket, his car, and his killer collection of vinyl.
Enter Hana: a truly radical girl from Chicago, biding her time before she can run off and be a journalist. Hana is punk before punk knew what it was. She’s into MC5, she’s attended more protests than you can shake a stick at.
Milo and Ronnie are immediately drawn to her. Why wouldn’t they be? She’s snarky, she’s into music. Oh, and she’s half-Japanese. Ronnie stops some of his racist ass team members from roughing her up, only to get punched in the nose. Thus, the Vinyl Underground is born!
There’s so much to love about every one of our four leads (Ramrod, though he didn’t get as much page time, is wonderful), but their sheer drive is what makes me want to protect all of these babies.
Their plan for getting Ronnie out of the draft? GENIUS, but also, as a sound engineer, HOLY SHIT DO NOT DO WHAT THEY DID, THAT’S A BAD MOVE. But it still makes so much sense!
A timely story despite the history, The Vinyl Underground is a story that carries hope and revolution in the forefront. I give it 5 out of 5 45 adapters.