Susanne Gervay, lyrics by Tory Gervay,
That’s Why I Wrote This Song
HarperCollins Australia, 2007.
Susanne Gervay (Butterflies, I Am Jack) teamed up with her daughter, songwriter/singer Tory Gervay on That’s Why I Wrote This Song, a story that brings the world of music center stage for young adults.
Peppered throughout with music references and lyrics, the book explores the possibilities and challenges of contemporary teen life as experienced by a group of 16-year-old friends who “think music, talk music, feel music.” Gervay’s easy, conversational style invites readers to come along for the ride as Pip, Karen, Angie and Irina, who have known each other since kindergarten, form a band called “Not Perfect” and divide their days between school, band rehearsals and parties – their love of music working both as an escape from reality and a catalyst for change in their lives.
Pip, the determined-to-be-committed-to-music-forever narrator, tells of the group’s experiences. She tries to stay true to her passion for music while struggling to make sense of her dad’s explosive behavior (he’s often traveling for work, but “when he’s home, everyone is scared”) and her mother’s submission to him. And Pip isn’t the only one trying to cope with things beyond her control. Irina has to deal with the pressures and expectations of her traditional Russian family; while Karen, whose parents are divorced, seems to be on a downward spiral, experimenting with alcohol and sex in response to her father’s violent behavior and her mother’s neglect. Angie, portrayed as the romantic and perfect one, seems to be the one facing only the lighter (in comparison) challenges of love and heartache.
Excitement builds as they prepare for their first performance as a band, little realizing the consequences their song “Psycho Dad” (“with images of their fathers gate-crashing the lyrics”) will have for all of them. Fittingly, given the band’s name, there’s no promise that everything will work out perfectly for them. Instead, readers are left with only their hopes for the best: an ending which will ring very true for teens everywhere.
Enjoying That’s Why I Wrote This Song in all its multi-media glory (with lyrics and downloadable music and videos), is an experience teen girls who favor light but still thought-provoking books won’t want to miss.