FeaturedComing of Age

Smokin' & Cryin'


Loved it! 😍

Smokin' & Cryin' is a cute and easy to read book! The writing style is simple and smooth and the themes very interesting. Worth reading :-)

Smokin’ & Cryin’ isn’t Grace Ombry’s first book, but it was for me as I hadn’t read anything by her before. I randomly found out about it through Reedsy Discovery, and you can bet I am so glad this happened. I truly loved the book and felt so lucky to read it before anyone else, and also for free.

This book is about Robin Chelsea, a fairly normal teenager who ends up becoming the lead singer of an American rock band called Smoky Topaz in the 1970s. This is an interesting storyline as I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that was so focused on music before, specifically on the happenings of a band on the rise. It’s a bit of a documentary novel, as it’s filled with poems, pop culture references, documents, letters and interviews – making it more realistic but also more of a young adult novel. I have nothing against that, but some people might. The language and writing style are also very simple and smooth, which make this book feel young, laid back and fresh.

Set in the 70s, the themes of music, being young, family and love come together with sadder themes such as death, addiction, the Vietnam war and the fact that teen boys were sent there to die. In fact, three of the members of Smoky Topaz are veterans from the Vietnam War and Robin himself joined the band to avoid recruitment, which obviously adds a layer to their personalities and interactions. I really liked the funny dynamic between the band members, as their egos clash and as they bond show after show. I also liked the fact that two of the band members, Robin and Arthur, are half-brothers, as it’s not often that I’ve found such a good representation of sibling dynamics in a book.

Even if this book deals with heavy themes and interesting concepts – even conspiracy theories – the part of the novel that deals with the rise of Smoky Topaz is so upbeat and fun that I think on the whole the book is a happy one. I can’t reveal much about the ending, but you will be surprised by unexpected twists as you read about what happens to the members of Smoky Topaz while recording their second album, Smokin’ & Cryin’.

Reviewed by

I am a neuroscience PhD student but I have always been a passionate reader and I have read many different book genres. I also write and have done for a very long time. I would definitely say reading and writing are two of my favourite activities, and I don't think this will change anytime soon.

Purple Heart

About the author

Grace Ombry has lived in Bay City, Mich. since 1971. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a journalism major and a great love for writing. She's the managing editor of Epoxyworks Magazine. Grace has written two pop-culture novels: Smokin' & Cryin' and State of Love & Trust. view profile

Published on December 17, 2018

90000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Coming of Age

Reviewed by