Grenade Bouquets is a book I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started to read it. I had wanted to read Runaway Train first and just didn’t have the time to fit it in. But after reading Grenade Bouquets I will be backtracking to the first book. I just did not want this book to end.
Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% mine.
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My Review of Grenade Bouquets
Nico Sullivan is the main character. A seventeen-year-old girl with parents (or ‘rents’) as she calls them who are no longer together. She has been somewhat of a rebel in her short high school career. Her sister’s death has been very tough on her emotionally. This also caused her to take off a year prior from her parents and friends without telling them.
Nico loves her alternative-type music, Winter (her very best friend), and Jeremy her guy friend (both from since they were 11). It is no surprise when Nico goes off on a tour to Vegas to join the Grenade Bouquets on their tour. There is so much going on in this book that at times you just have to take a breath.
Inside you will find a teenager trying to find herself while dealing with the death of her older sister. This grief helps Nico write a song that will become more than the band would ever imagine. There is drinking, smoking, and drugs in the storyline but that was also kind of expected in bands in the 90s. You will also encounter depression as mental health isn’t uncommon in your teenage years.
If you are like me you will be routing for Nico, wanting better for her, and at times wondering what she is thinking. If you are a parent, your parental feelings will think what would I do if that was my child? It is a great story and I am looking forward to the next book, I have a feeling that could be in the works.
Lee Matthew Goldberg has done such a wonderful job putting these characters together. His writing flows throughout the storyline which makes you have feelings for the characters themselves.
Excerpt from Grenade Bouquets
GRENADE BOUQUETS EXCERPT – LEE MATTHEW GOLDBERG
At five-thirty on the dot, Dad is already honking outside of the house and my hair is still wet from the shower and I’m dragging my suitcase down the stairs. I packed as light as possible with only one suitcase and a backpack for the next few weeks. Evan said that’s all that could fit in the van and we’d be spending our money at laundromats, or wouldn’t wash our stuff at all, which I’m cool with.
Inside the car, Annette is fixing her “Rachel” hairdo in the rearview while putting rouge on her cheeks. “Upwards,” she always told me, “you always want to brush upwards.” I want to say I’ll remember that when I turn middle-age, but I try to be nice.
“You ready, Scrap?” Dad asks, looking at me through his new bifocals. He’s begun dyeing his hair since he met Annette, but the silver-grey still peeks through in fits and spurts.
“Ready Freddy,” I say, as we shoot down I-405 to LAX. This early hour is one of the few times there are barely any cars on the road. I’m able to roll down the window and stick my hand out and make it dance with the breeze.
At the airport in the departures section, Dad fumbles in his pockets until he whips out a gas card.
“I’ll be monitoring this, so don’t overspend,” he says, and we do a tug of war with the card like he’s regretting handing it over. Finally, he lets go. “Okay, rules,” he says, and Annette rubs his back in swirling motions to calm him down. “One, no drugs. At these concerts, many people will try to offer you drugs, and you must say no. Also, never take a drink from someone else because it might be roofied.” He pushes up the glasses on his beak nose. I think of how Winter would always refer to him as Richard Gere from Pretty Woman, and I fight with everything in me not to vom. “You are to call when you reach each city on the tour, both to me and your mom because she worries, I mean she’ll be in my ear if you don’t.”
Annette shakes her head like isn’t my mom such a crazy lady?
“And boys,” he says, his eyes magnifying behind his glasses. “This boy you’ve been with…the one in the band…you need to make sure…that if…well, if you two decide to be intimate…”
My cheeks turn red enough to look like Annette went nuts with the rouge on them.
“Peter,” Annette says, jumping in to bring him back to some kind of sanity. “She’s a good girl.”
“Yeah, I am, like I’m gonna be responsible. I have too much on my mind with singing to screw it all up.”
Dad grimaces, clearly not fully trusting me yet after I ran away, but part of him is probably afraid that if they said no to this excursion, I might run away for good. Even though I wouldn’t—I mean, I don’t think so. Who knows what I’d do if they kept me from my dream?
“Just…be well,” he says, with a side-hug, the most kind of warmth I’d get from him, but that’s okay. It’s Dad being Dad.
“Bye, darling,” Annette says, with three kisses back and forth on my cheeks. And then they are waving and getting smaller as I drag my suitcase to the check-in desk. After I get my ticket, I expect them to still be waving but they’re gone and I have this creeping churning sensation in my stomach that I’m all alone. I have my journey’s mixtape loaded in my Sports Walkman, so I put on my headphones and hit play, and escape into the music as I wait for my flight to board.
Vegas, baby, here I come.
Grenade Bouquets (Runaway Train, Book 2) by Lee Matthew Goldberg Publisher: Wise Wolf Books (August 5, 2021) Series: Runaway Train, Book 2 Category: Young Adult, Runaways, Outcasts, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Depression, Mental Illness Tour dates: August31-September 24, 2021 ISBN: 978-1953944078 Available in Print and ebook, 286 pages
Description Grenade Bouquets by Lee Matthew Goldberg
I had stars in my eyes and I couldn’t see around them… The year is 1995 and my parents have finally allowed me to take the summer to tour in a VW van across the country with my boyfriend Evan and our band. Yes, my dream to be a singer became reality. Even with Clarissa, Evan’s jealous ex-girlfriend, as the lead singer, it’s my presence on stage that led us to a major record deal. There are moments you’ll always remember in life, but I can’t imagine anything cooler than hearing your song on the radio for the first time. But being a Rockstar isn’t as easy as it sounds. Using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, nothing but tension surrounded me, hurting my still blossoming relationship, and continued grieving over my sister’s death. A love letter to the nineties and a journey of a girl becoming a woman, Grenade Bouquets charts the rollercoaster ride of a band primed to explode on the scene, as long as they keep from actually exploding.
Praise Grenade Bouquets by Lee Matthew Goldberg
“An engaging ’90s pastiche with an earnest heart beating at its center.”- Kirkus Reviews“Runaway Train is a high-energy testimonial to the redemptive power of a road trip with an awesome soundtrack. Lee Matthew Goldberg balances the urgency of youth with a whiff of anticipatory nostalgia for the music and misadventures of late adolescence. Attuned to way distinctions between music genres and teen idols can feel like impermeable walls worth defending, and then crumble as a teen like Nico Sullivan finds her own voice.”- Jenn Stroud Rossman, author of The Place You’re Supposed to Laugh “Raw. Riveting. Runaway Train stays true to its title as it explores the deep pain of a teenager desperately trying to find peace in a world full of pain. Lee Matthew Goldberg is a master at bestowing sympathy and strength on deeply flawed characters. Realistic and shocking, hopeful and satisfying, Runaway Train will keep readers turning the page.”- USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Forster “It’s an incredibly challenging task for an author to utilize a darkly comedic tone without coming across as disingenuous–but Goldberg executes it here with expert precision. Brimming over with the visceral atmosphere of the early 90s grunge era, RUNAWAY TRAIN is a must-read for those willing to buckle up for the ride.”-Peter Malone Elliott (Director of Operations, Book Pipeline)
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of seven novels including THE ANCESTOR and THE MENTOR, currently in development as a film of his original script, and the YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, Hypertext, If My Book, Past Ten, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Website: http://www.leematthewgoldberg.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeeMatthewG Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leemgol Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leematthewgoldberg/
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