Genre: Humor, women's fiction, historical fiction
Synopsis: It is the spring of 1989 in New York City when Jill Dodge, a post-punk rocker from Texas, finally gets her big promotion at Mega Big Records. She is thrust into a race to find a gritty, urban rapper before the “Gangsta” trend passes their label by. As Jill and her mostly middle-class coworkers search for the next big rap star, they fluctuate between alliances and rivalries, tripping over the stereotypes of race, class, and musical genre. They work to promote their current roster of acts as well as the new rap artist they sign to a contract. It turns out, he may not be what they expected. Full of original lyrics and wit, Start With the Backbeat is a compelling examination of the nuances of class, race, and culture in America―which are sometimes ridiculously serious.
Review: I found this to be a very humorous book, and a fun, easy read. With all the talk in the synopsis about race, class, etc., I expected it to be a much heavier story. I wasn't disappointed in it, just surprised.
Even though I have never been a real fan of rap or rappers, I did find a lot of the pop cultural references from the 80s to be familiar. It brought back memories of my college days, which made me smile.
The main characters are well-developed, the dialogue is realistic, and the author is obviously knowledgeable about the music industry. Overall, a wonderful first novel that deserves a look, particularly if you are a fan of authors like Jennifer Weiner, or of musical memoirs.
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.**
Rating: Four stars
About the author
Garinè is a former singer/songwriter who grew up with one foot in Texas and the other in New Jersey. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she is a lover of music, chocolate, and altruistic sarcasm. She currently lives in Maryland, where she works full time in marketing communications, is the Workshops Chair for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, writes when everyone else is asleep, and lives with her husband, three kids, a cat, a dog, and a gecko. It’s the gecko that sent her over the edge.