JJ Green, a 16 year old girl, is one to speak her mind. It has always been her dream to write songs, but there is a slight problem. There are three unbreakable rules in the Green family:
1. The Greens always eat breakfast together.
2. The Greens always negotiate instead of arguing.
3. The Greens always become lawyers.
As I read these first few pages, a song automatically popped into my head: “We are Family” by Sister Sledge. The Greens were happy family, and especially in the 1960s, families stuck together. This song portrayed the scene of family life perfectly. But JJ shies away from these rules, for her wish is to become a songwriter. Behind her parents’ back she applies for a job at the music business where her ‘disowned’ uncle works. He calls it the place where songs are born. Her parents call it the place where dreams are lost. On the contrary, Bobby, the producer, loves JJ’s talent and hires her as an intern for the summer. When JJ finally shares her exciting news to her unenthusiastic parents, they are furious. Reluctantly, after tireless debates, they sign the paperwork, but they still are not approving of JJ’s decision. Her parents, then, make a deal: If JJ doesn’t get a song recorded by the time school starts in the fall, she will work as a lawyer. JJ doesn’t feel threatened by this arrangement at all. At this point I thought of the song, “One Way or Another” by Blondie. Somehow, somewhere, sometime she will get a record.
However, when the time comes to actually write the song, JJ’s fingers stop. Her creative juices halt. Her mind goes blank. This may be a lot tougher than she set out for it to be. Until she meets Dulcie Brown, her life flashes before her eyes, of thoughts of the deal with her parents. She cannot live the rest of her life as a lawyer; it just won’t do. Dulcie, a negro jazz singer with an amazing voice, now a custodian at for the producer, can help her through this rough spot in her career. But things take a wild turn. Although a beautiful song is written, JJ’s heart is broken.
I would rate this book 5/5 stars for its originality and incredible authencity because it was written by an actual songwriter, Cynthia Weil. I loved the historical fiction aspect as well as her unique style of creative writing.
-Maya S., 7th Grade
I’m Glad I Did is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.