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The Music of What Happens

Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: Young Adults, Ages 13 & Up
4.5 out of 5 stars (97 ratings)

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Summary

From the award-winning author of Openly Straight, a story about two teens falling in love over a summer that throws everything possible to keep them apart. 

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn't want to think about, ever. 

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His "wives" and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won't like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he's the only one who can keep the family from falling apart. 

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what's considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites. 

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they're willing to risk - to get the thing they want the most.

©2019 Bill Konigsberg (P)2019 Scholastic Inc.

Critic reviews

"Through the empathetic performances of two narrators, we meet gay Arizona high schoolers Jordan and Max, and their families and friends....  Froomkin and Perez's heartfelt portrayals ensure that listeners are in sync with the characters as they deal with everything from a traumatic sexual encounter and mental health issues to toxic masculinity and figuring out how to be true to oneself." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Something is a little jarring

On paper, this is a book that I ought to have enjoyed given I like very similar books. However, I struggled to finish it, and when I did I was no longer invested.
The style where there are two narrators narrated by different people sounds like a good idea, but it gets really jarring when one does the other's voice as they're very different. Taken separately, the narrators do a good job; the switching is what raises the issue.

2 people found this helpful

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Incredible!

I really loved this book. Brilliant, deep characters...excellent narration.... fabulous writing. Take the plunge. Read it.

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Just... wow!

I really enjoyed. The actors voices were enjoyable to listen to and the story was captivating, raw, real and just fantastic.
Thank you for the many hours of enjoyable listening. x

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Beautiful

This was a lovely book to listen to.
I’m not going to lie it did seam to drag on a bit but I’d rather have a longer book than something that was over too quickly.
The actors(?) were great. I was beginning to find one voice a bit too much at times but I suppose that was the way it was written (sorry Joel!). It would have been nice to have changed between the different guys when it was them talking (not just their chapter).

Overall happy to have listened to this audiobook, made my drives to work more enjoyable.
I managed not to cry though there were some points I nearly did. (Surprised myself that I’m not a heartless monster 😂)

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So many emotions

I’ve listened to some Bill Konigsberg books before and this did not disappoint. It was a rollercoaster of emotions that I was not expecting to go on. Amazing depth of characters and well read by both!! Worth a listen to!!

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Narration a little Jarring But Story is Great

The voice of joel frumpkin is the one downside of this story, he has the perfect voice for the part but he comes at the narration very harshly you often feel attacked when he suddenly exclaims something which doesn't need to be, especially compared to the other narrator who is in contrast much more calm and measured. The story is a great blend of tones and personalities with a nice balanced ending and well worth the listen.

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Another beautiful story

Once again Bill Konigsberg creates realistic characters that I felt I could relate to. Yes, he uses stereotypes but they are not one sided, they have depth. The story is beautiful and the whole while I was wondering what was going to happen next to then their worlds upside down. The actual performances were fine but there were parts where they edit in sentences that were obviously re-recorded on a different day which breaks the immersion for me. They are few and far between, however, and did not ruin my enjoyment of the book so much.

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Wow just wow

Insane good. Shut up and click buy, you won’t regret it. Love the ending wish it was like 20 hrs longer.

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One of my top books of the year!

If I could, I would give all the stars in the night sky to Bill Konigsberg and The Music of What Happens. This YA LGBT novel worked its way into my heart and refuses to let go. With a unique and refreshing cast of characters who aren’t afraid to recognize their shortcomings or tackle the problems life throws at them, this book is probably my top read of the year so far.

One of the real assets of this story was how REAL it was. It wasn’t a stereotypical “summer love” young adult novel. This book showed that sometimes, life sucks. Life is hard, lousy things happen to good people, and not everyone can deal in a constructive and healthy way.

But Max and Jordan forged an unlikely friendship which morphed into a fledgling love and learned to lean on each other, which I found heartwarming and beautiful. I loved that they were able to open up to each other and become a source of strength for one another. My momma bear instincts kicked into overdrive for these two and I have adopted Jordan as my fictional son and want to take care of him forever.

The Music of What Happens deals with some heavy topics and honestly, certain parts were difficult to read. My heart hurt for these boys, especially as I could draw some parallels between their experiences to my own youth (back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth). But I felt they were handled respectfully and thoughtfully.

I listened to the audiobook (of course), and the narration was outstanding. Anthony Rey Perez was a new narrator for me, and he embodied Max perfectly. Joel Froomkin is, well…Joel. Need I say more? If you’ve known me more than a minute, you know my feelings there. Of course, he nails the main characters, but even beyond that, his portrayal of Jordan’s “wives” had me snort-laughing so many times throughout the story. He made even those “secondary” characters so vivid and entertaining, I loved them and couldn’t help but become attached to them.

Konigsberg wrote a story that was heartwarming and silly and serious and authentic and wonderful. I don’t have enough superlatives to describe how I felt about this book. I honestly loved it and feel it truly is a book that so many people, young, old, gay, straight, and anything in between could benefit from reading.

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Touching story

Flawed-but-likeable characters, engaging performances, a deftly-plotted storyline with touching/tender moments, humour and believable character development.

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  • L. Cothren
  • 14-03-19

Beautiful

This book was amazing. It resonated with me on so many levels. I cannot even explain, but it is truly heartbreaking, heart wrenching and beautifully glorious in every way.
The audible narrators were beyond perfect for telling this story. They could not have been more perfectly casted.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Aptsolecist
  • 13-03-19

Entertaing read!

Bill is so good at character development. I was a little sad when it ended because I wanted more of them. The readers also did a good job of adding to the uniqueness of the characters and added to how the listener experiences the story. It was a cute and touching story which facilitates an interesting conversation about the dynamics of sexual consent.

5 people found this helpful

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  • chris
  • 05-04-19

Enjoyable, but...

I'll start by saying, if you've listened to "Openly straight and Honestly Ben", you wont get the same character and plot development. Both of those books were amazing. That being said, if you enjoy the author's writing style, you'll also enjoy this book. Overall, the characters were pretty thin with exception of the two leads. The friends of both the boys, were just accessories. It's enough for you to identify with and get their purpose, but you won't go away with fond memories like in the other books.

In some ways this could have just been a story about the two guys over a weekend getting to know one another. The other characters didn't really add much. What I did enjoy was the examination of something else in the gay community that probably doesn't get the attention that it needs (spoilers) so I won't say much more.

Lastly, the "Jordan" narrartor was THE WORST. I almost cringed everytime I heard his voice. I couldn't wait to flip back to Max. The narrartor for Max while 10 times better, he wasn't perfect but played a teenage jock boy enough where I could imagine vidvidly what he would be like if he were real

The book was satisyfing, and was a nice distraction from my normal listens. Accept this for what it is and you'll enjoy too.

3 people found this helpful

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  • rosalinda lam
  • 26-06-19

Every time I see I food truck...

I really liked this book. I loved that even though the author discusses themes like coming of age, sexual preferences, class, race, mental illness and family disfunction the book never feels heavy or hopeless. I actually laughed out loud several times and the dialogue between the characters always felt real. The only problem is that every time I see a food truck now I make a love story in my mind about the people working there and I can’t help but smile like an idiot

2 people found this helpful

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  • Devin Murphy
  • 26-09-19

The voices are not bad

I don't understand why everybody is down on the reader for Jordan. He sounds exactly like an anxious teenage boy, which is super accurate to the story. I actually really loved how the boy voiced each other. It really highlights the differences in what we think, what we say, and what is heard by others. A really interesting perspective that is not often tackled in writing. The only issue I had was the leveling between the 2 readers always had to turn up the volume for Max which left Jordan yelling in my ear.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-19

Beautiful and Honest

Thank you to the author and the narrators for bring this beautiful and honest story to us.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Melanie Maynor
  • 25-09-19

Great story

I don't usually write reviews, but this book was so great, that i couldn't help it. This book deals with all kinds of serious issues while, also, being laugh out loud funny. This was one of the sweetest love stories I've come across lately.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robby
  • 27-08-19

Intense

You can tell pretty early on some of the stuff that's going to happen, the not so good stuff. Foreshadowing and all that. you can prepare for it, but you still kind of have to follow them on that emotional trip and digest it alongside them. Which is kind of amazing it's digestible at all, these experiences that will be traumatic and foreign to many/most, and familiar to some. I ache, but love books that help expose your mind to real problems and pains other people deal with so that your not so ignorant if it connects back to you later in life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Janice Birnie
  • 16-08-19

Superb.

The Music of What Happens is a beautifully written story of two adolescent boys on the cusp of growing into men. Of finding yourself and your connections with others. Of families, both blood and made and how we support each other through the best and worst of times. Adults can be severely flawed, or not. Teenagers can be miraculous; and flawed. In the end it’s the people who support us who matter.
The voice acting was pitch perfect and the combination of words and narration made for a stunning listen.
This novel should be in every school library and should be read by parents as well.
Highly highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ryan Knights
  • 17-07-19

wonderful

another beautiful book by bill, a must listen if you're a fan of young teen gay romance

1 person found this helpful