The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

Trigger warnings: Rape, PTSD from rape, death, illness, microaggressions towards race and sexuality

SynopsisMax: 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.

Review: The Music of What Happens is one of those super cute books about boy-love with some darker themes peppered in. We follow Max and Jordan as they come together to work on a food truck, and the end up forging deeper bonds. Max is part black and part Mexican, so you might want to look at reviewers from those backgrounds and see if Max is a sufficient representation. Jordan tries is best to take care of his mom while his father is ill. This includes working the food truck they own. One of the best things about this book is that Jordan and Max are both out and proud when it comes to their sexuality. The book doesn't focus on too many heavy conversations about sexuality which is nice. It was hard for me to keep Max and Jordan's backstories separate which is a pity.

I enjoyed the story of this well enough. Jordan and his mom are in a bind, so they decide to use the food truck to make some money. Neither of them are good at this, but Jordan is extremely helpful and ends up working the truck for a summer job. This is just an adorable story about two boys who work a food truck and fall in love. They also learn to navigate their personal problems together. One of the characters does have to deal with rape, and the after effects. For the most part, I liked how this was handled. It does a good job of showing the confusion that often comes with male rape, and how easy it is for a person's brain to try to sugar coat a traumatic experience like that. I do wish there was better conversation defining the difference between sex and rape. This might be due to the character's confusion and struggle, but the terms seemed to be used interchangeably which is unfortunate. 

I quite enjoyed this story. The light-hearted nature of it was fun to read. 

4 howls