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Songs From The Other Side

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Worth reading 😎

A coming-of-age novel told by Jayne, a science lover whose life is transformed and how she uses her differing parents' views to navigate it

Robyn Bernstein's debut novel has much to recommend it. It is a coming-of-age story about Jayne, who is trying to find her niche in a world where she is a science fanatic with intelligence that makes her stand out. Her parents' relationship is in crisis and she is trying to reconcile their home situation with a yearning to return to New York, her perceived idea of the city being a draw to her, like a Mecca of forward thinking and anonymity, a place where she feels that she could feel comfortable.


Her relationship with her mum is one that is the most tense, as Jayne identifies with her science professor dad more. Her brother, Max is concerned with girls and competitive swimming, him being two years older than fifteen year old Jayne but they are good friends to each other, neither of them knowing that their ties to each other will be tested when tragedy strikes and takes them into a completely different environment.


The book deals with Jayne trying to navigate all of the changes that are thrust upon her and trying to hold on to what remnants she has of her previous family life to help her do this.


Bernstein has chosen to have Jayne narrate and I liked the voice that she created for her. She is likeable and the things that she concerns herself with are very much those of a fifteen year old girl.


I liked the premise of the book and I thought that all of the scientific references were interesting rather than baffling and added an extra layer, prompting a philosophical discussion about Science vs Religion; why we are here; the interconnectedness of things and forces seen and unseen. There were moments where I was impressed by Bernstein's writing and the essence of the story was good as I wanted to know how it all ended up for Jayne. However, there were times where I felt like the narrative was jerky, sometimes in the dialogue between characters and sometimes in Jayne's narration where we move from place to place without smoothness.


Ultimately, my response to this novel is mixed: at times, I loved it; its message; the way it was written with Bernstein's choice of description. However, it was not a totally smooth read; I can only liken it to going down a fast-flowing stream and occasionally bumping little rocks.



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I am Rachel and I have a website where, amongst other stuff, I blog about books I've read. I was previously an English teacher so books have always been a big part of my life and I read many genres. I love crafts, especially knitting; travel; my kids (I suppose); and writing.

1985 The Fourth of July

About the author

Debut author, Robyn Bernstein is a Duke University graduate, currently living in Arizona with her husband and three kids. Her work is influenced by a decade of living in New York City, as she frequently highlights art, music and architecture as important aspects of her characters' East Coast lives. view profile

Published on April 05, 2021

Published by

100000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Young Adult

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