I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn't do it for me. Maybe I've just read too many books about internet friendships crossing over into real life or something. I don't know... I just found it really predictable and nothing really surprised me about it in any way.
I liked the characters and the fact they were all part of a high school marching band and I liked the way the band had become kind of a family for many of the members who didn't fit in elsewhere. I liked how Santi was quickly absorbed into this family. I even liked the stop-start nature of Suwa and Santi's friendship, but it was really clear to me right from the start that these two were the same people who had been communicating online and bonding over their queerness and anime.
So all the rest of the book, as the two of them made this discovery themselves, didn't really work for me. And let's not even go into how unlikely it would be that these two internet friends would be at the same school in a city the size of LA...
The musical backdrop of this book was great and I liked that Suwa spent time in Tokyo and we got to see some of that, even if it wasn't a lot. So I didn't hate it. I just didn't like it all that much and felt like I'd seen and heard most of this before.
But if you haven't read a lot of books like this, you might find it fresher and more engaging than I did. And if you're looking for a cast of characters that are both culturally and sexually diverse, this book represents across the spectrum.But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:
Lio Min’s Beating Heart Baby is a love letter to internet friendships, anime, and indie rock
When artistic and sensitive Santi arrives at his new high school, everyone in the wildly talented marching band welcomes him with open arms. Everyone except for the prickly, proud musical prodigy Suwa, who doesn’t think Santi has what it takes to be in the band.
But Santi and Suwa share painful pasts, and when they open up to each other, a tentative friendship begins. And soon, that friendship turns into something more. . . .
Will their fresh start rip at the seams as Suwa seeks out a solo spotlight, and both boys come to terms with what it'll take, and what they'll have to let go, to realize their dreams?