Contemporary Young Adult
Henry Holt & Co/Macmillan
Available October 25th
Received from publisher for review
Jasmine's on her own. When she told her wealthy cardiologist father she didn't want to follow up on her acceptance to Stanford but instead wished to take some time off to pursue her love of music, he asked her to leave.
Now she's in a new place with very little money, no job, no place to stay and a car that's just decided to die on her. Thankfully, it died in front of an auto repair shop where the good-looking but in-need-of-attitude-adjustment young mechanic informs her of the cost to fix it.
Temporarily ignoring the problem of her car, Jasmine shows up to a band audition that comes with the benefit of a room for rent should she be chosen. She's hoping the other members will consider her despite her lack of experience as well as the fact that she's a woman and the ad said men preferred. As it turns out, getting into the band is the easiest part, while the pursuit of her dream and a fledgling romance with the irritating mechanic who just happens to also be the bassist for the band prove to be far more difficult.
Amplified is a cute contemporary read, one that has us living vicariously through Jasmine as she starts down the path toward her goal of being self-sufficient and in her very own band only to find the road not as smoothly paved as she might have hoped. Though musical terms and descriptions of various instruments with their corresponding parts and pieces are prevalent, after our initial hesitation at their unfamiliarity they help draw us into the story, Jasmine's love of music creating a language we understand despite our lack of comprehension on certain specifics. Ms. Kelly writes in vivid pictures as opposed to words, the drama of a budding musical career combined with family disapproval as well as a crush on someone emotionally unattainable projecting from the pages and filtering directly into our minds and hearts as we simply sit back and enjoy.
Jasmine is a young woman of drive and determination, possessing the strength to leave a life full of expectations she has no desire to meet despite the fact that many would call her existence privileged, and chart her own course. She refuses to back down or allow people to walk all over her without ever being abrasive or off-putting, and while we admire that confidence we are also privy to her vulnerabilities and acute fears, making her as tangible and real as if she were standing right beside us. Her stage fright is intense, and there are several scenes where that fear wafts from the paper in waves so thick we practically choke on it, our hearts in our throats as we will ourselves to stay in place and not abandon Jasmine to make ourselves feel more comfortable.
Her romance with Sean is written beautifully, their epically antagonistic relationship ever-so-slowly progressing into one of mutual admiration and respect. There are no doe-eyed glances right off the bat nor any compulsions to be in the other person's presence every moment of the day, instead in their place are traded barbs and thinly veiled insults as they feel one another out as both roommates and bandmates. Their posturing and their generally argumentative natures are highly entertaining, and when the inevitable pain rears its ugly head we feel it to our core as Jasmine does, thinking to ourselves all the the things we wish we could say to Sean in her stead. Through all the ups and downs of her story, Jasmine remains steadfast, reacting to events without overreacting, and allowing for just the right amount of drama to keep us riveted.
Amplified is a quick, highly recommended read for lovers of contemporary young adult fiction, one that will likely keep readers up late just so they can discover for themselves how close Jasmine comes to attaining her dream. The relationship with her father could have been a bit more complex in nature, wrapping up rather anticlimactically after the volatility of it throughout, but overall this is a story that delivers on a variety of levels. The conclusion isn't handed to us with a pretty bow, ties instead hang loose, just begging us to pick them up and loop them together in our own minds as we read into Jasmine and Sean's future what we will.