Soho Teen, January 2015
(Disclosure: I received a free ARC at a publishing industry event)
Justice "JJ" Greene wants nothing more than to write music. Her all-lawyer family has other ideas. When she manages to negotiate her way into a record company summer internship, determined to prove what she can do, she finds herself in the thick of 1960s music biz intrigue. Just when she’s put together the perfect song (with the help of Luke, a particularly cute lyricist with both the music and the intrigue in his blood), their demo singer turns up splattered on the sidewalk. It's up to JJ and Luke to unravel the mystery that surrounds her death and weaves their two families together, and, if they have time, to pitch their great breakout song.
A few clichéd, matter-of-fact announcements of what people feel and what family is like detract from the general lifelike quality of the characters, and for a murder mystery, the secrets to be uncovered are often over-sanitized and, as a result, underwhelming.
The specialized, period setting is immersive and alive. Weil uses her life experience to great effect, infusing the story with distinct flavor without losing timeless YA relatability. JJ will appeal to anyone who's struggled with making an irresistible passion into a serious career, or with being something other than what loved ones are hoping for. The whodunit tension surrounding the loveable but potentially gray characters keeps up the pace, and the generations-long drama of pre-civil rights interracial love is heartstring-tugging without ever cluttering the story at hand. I’m Glad I Did is a story about the beauty of interpersonal and artistic love and integrity in a world that supports no combination of the above, one well worth experiencing because (forgive me), you'll be glad you did.
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