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The Summer of Songwriting

In her debut novel, I'm Glad I Did, acclaimed songwriter Cynthia Weil gives us a taste of what life was like for aspiring young female songwriters in the 1960s.

The Summer of Songwriting

BOOK REPORT for I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

Cover Story: Doo Wop
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Pop Music
Bonus Factor: Real Songs
Relationship Status: Not My Kind of Tune

Cover Story: Doo Wop

For a book about a young woman in the 60s who’s trying to break into the music business, this cover is pretty spot-on.

The Deal:

For most of her 16 years on this planet, JJ has wanted nothing more than to be a songwriter and work in the music biz. But when you come from a family of lawyers—who expect you to also become a lawyer—having an alternate dream can be hard.

At the start of the summer of 1963, JJ makes her family a deal: She’ll get a record deal for a song before college starts in the fall, or she’ll forget about the dream. Little does she know that more than just the writing will stand in her way.

BFF Charm: Meh

JJ is a smart, sweet and driven individual …  but she’s also quite a bit of a Mary Sue. She’s too smart—she graduated from high school two years early. She’s too sweet—she never lies to her parents, and she befriends people, like the office janitor, who no one else cares to even notice. Inversely, she’s not driven enough—after getting her dream summer job as an office worker/apprentice songwriter, she’s too preoccupied with the other things going on in her life to write more than one song over the entire summer. (She goes so far as to physically avoid her boss when he comes looking for her progress.) I just never really connected with her.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

The first day on the job, JJ notices a wholly swoonworthy dude in the elevator. It takes a few chapters, but the two finally have a meet-cute, which leads to them being forced together in a very “romantic comedy” kind of way. It’s all very sweet, and very 1963.

Talky Talk: Pop Music

For a debut novel, Cynthia Weil has done a good job of creating a story that flows well. She’s also a good writer, and her characters are believably from the 60s (in terms of slang, etc.) Unfortunately, I’m Glad I Did’s story isn’t deep at all. The plot feels very formulaic and unsurprising. The characters are limited and a bit stereotypical. JJ—and her life—is nearly too perfect. The mystery at the heart of the story is wrapped up with a neat bow. And the huge, life-altering reveals that happen during the investigation are met with a distinct lack of expected emotion.

Bonus Factor: Real Songs

Cynthia Weil is an actual songwriter (and a very successful one at that), so it’s neat to know that she wrote the song in the book specifically for the book.

Casting Call:

Lyndsy Fonseca as JJ

Relationship Status: Not My Kind of Tune

Although on the surface, Book, you were interesting, and our date was by no means awful, I just didn’t feel any real connection to you. I would have loved to get to know you on a deeper level, but I know it can be hard to really let yourself be vulnerable on a first date.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from HarperTeen. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. I’m Glad I Did will be available Jan. 27.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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