Over the years we have received and come across many reviews of our award-winning multicultural title, Musical Youth. Below we have compiled just a few. We would love to hear your review of Musical Youth. If you have not read Musical Youth yet, get a copy at your favorite book store or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
“In the tradition of the best YA stories, Hillhouse’s characters are convincing because they’re unfailingly realistic in their interactions, interests, and struggles. Her players sound like actual people, and specifically like Antiguan teens. Through their personal journeys, readers learn about issues that affect young people in Antigua and across the globe, including internalized racism, colorism, economic inequality, generational trauma, and old-fashioned teenage angst. This is not to say that the book is heavy or maudlin in tone; on the contrary, Hillhouse’s writing is overwhelmingly joyful and explicitly invested in the power of Black joy, Black excellence, and Black self-love.”— Kirkus Reviews
Musical Youth is a beautifully crafted novel with the leitmotiv of music running throughout it. This is a powerful and credible story of young love between two likeable heroes.”—CODE, Sponsors of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.
“All-in-all Musical Youth is an entertaining read that reminds teenagers that they will survive their troubles. The writing is vivid; the characters are credible; the idea of using music as a thread to tie the characters together is brilliant.” This is just a small part of the Debbie Jacob’s review in the Trinidad Guardian of January 18, 2015. She goes on to hail the book as a “Compelling read” that will engage a wide range of readers from 14-22 years old.
“Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse is a series of conversations on various subjects like racism, shadeism, relationships-man/woman, family, consequences of liaisons-sins of the grand/parents falling on their descendants. It is also a love story of two gifted musicians who found their way through music while working on summer musical. The story is fast-paced and engaging, a writer doing an excellent job with her tools of trade right down to a song titled ‘Melanin’ written by the two protagonists.” Petamber Persaud, Guyana Chronicle, April 5, 2015.
Authors and Bloggers’ Reviews
We loved the focus on colurism and how colourism is manifested in their communities. Also loved how the author chose to show male friendships. It was a wonderful read. – Beginning minute 15:18 of RunwrightReads Book Club 2021 Recap and 2022 Plans
“Musical Youth …is absolutely brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I think it should be read by young adults across the Caribbean. The themes are so powerful.” – author and literary scholar (Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender, and the ‘Vulgar’ Body of Jamaican Popular Culture, Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large) Professor Carolyn Cooper
“I first recognized the weight of her work by the response of the teens to her book, Musical Youth , in the Grenada Community Library. It remains one of the most popular books with teens, despite their tendency to shun Caribbean literature when they have a choice because they are required to read it in schools.” – Oonya Kempadoo, author of Buxton Spice
In April we came across a review in French from a blog titled myinsaeng. You can read the french review here and the English translation here, but this is the last paragraph: “To my knowledge, there is no French translation available, much less Creole, but I hope that “Musical Youth” will become a classic of literature for generations to come. And why not an audiovisual adaptation to immortalize this illustration of our time?”
“I love the little loving details that go into making a book that much more special, like the musical staff here on every new chapter of #MusicalYouth by @jhohadli . If you’re looking for a great YA summer read that’s also got some depth, check this one out. It’s all about learning to work together, the effects of colourism, coming out of your shell, and embracing your own self worth. I will read this one again at some point!…It’s a heart-warming Antiguan YA that’s pretty quick and easy to get through. Would highly recommend!” –beauty.on.the.bookshelf on Instagram
“I quite enjoyed this novel. it was well written…a very interesting read. I liked the characters, especially Shaka who was quite amusing and I liked to see the development of the main character Zahara. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Caribbean family dynamics…it was very well done.” Video blogger Giselle Mills.
“This was a sweet coming of age romance. I found myself saying awwww way too often. Shaka is the guy who falls hard for his girl and his animated crew lives the romance with him. Zahara is complicated but the music frees her, each cord brings her to herself. Many times in Caribbean books you reminisce about how your childhood compared and Pappy was it for me: holding everyone and everything together with simple finesse that you didn’t even notice it.” – Marsha Gomes-McKie
“I just finished reading Joanne C. Hillhouse’s YA novel, ‘Musical Youth’. It’s well written, characters well drawn, all the things one would expect. I enjoyed it. Most important, I think the YA readers will enjoy it. I do hope that it gets the distribution it deserves. I got it here, so I’m impressed with that.” – children and YA author, Jamaican Diane Browne
“I give it an A+ for (among other things) capturing in a very interesting way the tentative attraction and growing relationship of boy and girl in the teen years, as well as affirmation of how friends can help one another over some of the uncertainties and humps of those turbulent years.” – children and YA author, Jamaican Hazel Campbell – read the full review on her blog
“Musical Youth is beautifully written. It is a pride to Caribbean young adult fiction. Though it addresses a strong and very real social issue, the writer skillfully educates you while she takes you back to the innocence of school days in the Caribbean. You can’t help but remember your first crush, how every little thing they did is permanently etched in your memory. There is a good blend of characters throughout the book and they complement each other well. It was also refreshing to read a story about children doing positive things. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it to fellow readers.” – Trinidadian author, Vanessa Salazar
“This novel’s strength proclaims itself in never shying away from the truth about our problems, while simultaneously celebrating the hard-won historical joys of our freedom — as citizens and music makers alike.” – Shivanee Ramlochan, blogging for Paper Based Books. Read the full review. Also found here.
“I was very impressed with this book mostly because I am a teenager myself and I found it very relatable.Firstly, I will state that I was impressed with the evolution of the relationship from friends to lovers between Shaka and Zahara. I especially liked how it grew off of their deep passions for music. Also, I loved your usage of the “Antiguan Dialect” in the novel and the use of modern technology. The usage of these two things allowed myself as a teenage to better relate to the book. Finally I would just like to say that this book kept me on my toes especially considering a finished it within a day! Ms. Hillhouse, you have done a fantastic job of writing this book and I hope that one day we can meet in person for me to thank you and to discuss it in further detail! Lastly, I would like to state to anyone who is reading this to purchase this novel! Give it to your daughter, son, uncle or even your grandmother! It is definitely one that they will enjoy especially with the unexpected within the book!”
“I grew up in Antigua, and reading Musical Youth transported me back into time when I was a secondary school student. I reminisced on the close friendships I’d made, very much like Shaka and his crew, and I could also relate to making friends with “the butter skin” girl. Through Joanne’s vivid writing, I felt Shaka and Zahara’s passion for music and I shared in the excitement and nervousness of preparing for the end of summer show. I was swept up into the twist at the end and was thoroughly engaged from the first page to the last. Great read!”
I was very impressed with this book mostly because I am a teenager myself and I found it very relatable. Firstly, I will state that I was impressed with the evolution of the relationship from friends to lovers between Shaka and Zahara. I especially liked how it grew off of their deep passions for music. Also, I loved your usage of the “Antiguan Dialect” in the novel and the use of modern technology. The usage of these two things allowed myself as a teenage to better relate to the book. Finally I would just like to say that this book kept me on my toes especially considering a finished it within a day! Ms. Hillhouse, you have done a fantastic job of writing this book and I hope that one day we can meet in person for me to thank you and to discuss it in further detail! Lastly, I would like to state to anyone who is reading this to purchase this novel! Give it to your daughter, son, uncle or even your grandmother! It is definitely one that they will enjoy especially with the unexpected within the book!