THE BOOK: I’m Glad I Did
AUTHOR: Cynthia Weil (lyricist of famous songs like “On Broadway” and “Somewhere Out There”)
THE GENRE: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical Fiction
AUTHOR WEBSITE: http://www.mann-weil.com/
I’m Glad I Did Review
From Cynthia Weil – Grammy winner and Oscar nominated songwriter- comes a coming of age tale about an aspiring 16 year old songwriter. Set in the summer of 1963, Weil paints a believable picture of the past. With her own first-hand knowledge of the music industry (Weil being one of the actual songwriters of the time), the 1960s comes to life almost as well as any historical or period drama made for film or television.
The story follows J.J. Green who gets a summer job as an assistant for a huge music producer in the famous Brill building (thanks in part to her successful uncle also in the music industry). Part of her job description includes writing and pitching songs. But with a lawyer filled family –her parents want her to become a lawyer as well- with no appreciation for J.J.’s dreams to write, she has only three months to record a song or else give up her dream for good. The pressure is on!
With no support at home (aside from her Uncle that no one in the family has anything to do with), J.J. enters into this new world with excitement and insecurities. Is she good enough to record a song? One night, while writing some original music, she befriends a custodian named Darcie. This custodian also just happens to have once been a famous singer who lost everything when she got into drugs. Now drug-free, Darcie becomes a mentor to young J.J. and helps her recognize her strengths: writing music. J.J. with newfound confidence then crosses paths with a handsome young man with beautiful green eyes, a young man who also happens to write lyrics. Seems like a match made in heaven.
As the two partner up and write a bluesy song (the original lyrics included in the book), and also fall in love along the way, someone is suspiciously murdered. When secrets begin to unfold (theft, corruption, etc.), J.J. gets pulled into the dark world of the music business. But will she discover the killer before it’s too late?
Without a doubt, I’m Glad I Did proves Weil is a talented writer in more than just the realm of music. Her debut novel captures another time with ease and sucks you into this historical world with such rich details, you leave the book feeling as if you time traveled. Aside from the believable details, Weil also has a talent for characters. Each character has such a unique voice that they truly feel real. Conflicts between family, love, and friendship all make for a powerful coming of age novel.
From the songwriter of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” (The Righteous Brothers) and “Where Have You Been All My Life” (The Beatles), I can’t think of a better person than Cynthia Weil to write a young adult novel about the music industry. While imperfect and perhaps some teens may not care (or even know half of the artists mentioned in the book), I think even the youth unfamiliar with Cynthia Weil and her husband’s long list of songs, will still enjoy the mystery, love story, and J.J’s authentic voice with a strong desire to succeed. This is a wonderful debut from one of the best songwriters from the past 50 years. I just wish I could listen to the songs from the book!
With popular music TV shows like Empire and Nashville and popular period dramas like Mad Men and Call the Midwife, one can easily see how to adapt I’m Glad I Did. A period TV show that examines the music business during the 1960s would be quite an interesting TV series. I know I would tune in.
“You had me at hello.”
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
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