Music, Mixtapes, & (Life’s) Mysteries: What to Read While Waiting for The Big Rewind

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Eric Smith

Staff Writer

Eric Smith an author, blogger, and literary agent based in Philadelphia. When he isn’t busy trying to discover new books, he sometimes tries to write his own. Blog: Eric Smith Twitter: @ericsmithrocks

A few weeks ago, the folks over William Morrow dropped an ARC of The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore in the mail. It was a surprise for me, since I don’t regularly get adult books sent my way. My mailbox is mostly full of YA these days. But within just a few pages, I knew exactly why this book showed up. Apparently someone over there knows me very, very well.

See, The Big Rewind introduces readers to Jett Bennett, a failed writer who still daydreams of her college glory days and former burnt-out flames… and discovers her neighbor, a fellow mixtape-loving-Brooklynite, has been murdered in her apartment. With the police light on leads, Jett decides to investigate the crime herself, using the only clue on hand. One that she’s uniquely qualified to look into and analyze.

A mixtape.

It’s a murder mystery that’s investigated with a mixtape, you guys.

What unravels (sorry) is a hilarious and heartwarming High-Fidelity-meets-Veronica-Mars quest through New York City, packed with quirky characters, swoon-filled moments, and some riotous jabs at the hipster culture Jett is a part of, but wishes she was apart from. There’s a lot in here about moving on from your past, and finding happiness in your current moment, and amidst the odd situations Jett finds herself in and the wacky people that surround her, there are plenty of profound, poignant moments.

With chapter titles named after songs by my favorite bands and prose filled with nostalgia for the joys of crafting the perfect mixtape, it felt like Libby Cudmore wrote The Big Rewind just for me… particularly when one of the chapters was titled The Impression That I Get, making my inner-ska-kid light up.

Unfortunately, dear Book Rioters, this book isn’t out until February of next year. But I loved it so much, that I wanted to put it on your radar early, and dish out some reads you can pick up before it hits bookshelves.

veronica mars

Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas: So you’ve got two Veronica Mars novels to choose from for this, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss & Tell. The first book picks up ten years after Veronica has finished high school, and finds herself struggling to keep her P.I. firm alive. She’s brought on to investigate a girl gone missing in her town of Neptune, California, during the madness that is spring break.

Drugs and crime abound, and much like in The Big Rewind, the past comes back to our dear main character in a surprising way. If there’s one thing that Jett has a hard time with in Cudmore’s debut, it’s struggling with balancing the happiness in her current life with her past one.

high fidelityHigh Fidelity by Nick Hornby: I’ve gushed about High Fidelity here on BookRiot before, so I won’t get too crazy. Hornby’s hilarious novel of music and heartbreak is the perfect pairing with The Big Rewind though, with protagonists that both ache over the music that they love.

High Fidelity traces one man’s history of ruined relationships, self sabotage, and top five lists as he tries to maintain a struggling record shop and daydreams of supposedly better times.

girl defectiveGirl Defective by Simmone Howell: I have a pretty good feeling that The Big Rewind is going to crossover to YA audiences, so let’s talk about some YA reads you can pair with it. There are tons of great YA reads about love and music, so feel free to sound off in the comments with some of your favorites. First one up? Girl Defective.

This one is a little more Empire Records, with a young girl, Skylark, trying to figure out what she wants from life while living above a record shop. There’s some swoony romance mixed in with all the music and mystery, just like The Big Rewind.

Skylark and her brother Gully (this book is full of awesome names) are investigating the death of a local girl that’s drowned, and trying to hunt down whoever is vandalizing their Dad’s record store.

for the recordFor the Record by Charlotte Huang: Here’s another book that isn’t out just yet, but hits stores next month.

It’s one of my most anticipated this year, especially when you’ve got a marketing hook like “Almost Famous as a YA novel.” Give this to me right now.

Huang’s debut introduces readers to Chelsea, a girl that suddenly finds herself a rockstar performing as the lead singer of a group called Melbourne… a band comprised of musicians that don’t like her. And to make things worse, a teen celebrity becomes smitten with her, catapulting her into the headlines and further stardom.

Why worse? She’s starting to discover the spotlight might not be what she’s always dreamed it would be.

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield: The sequel in the amazing Love Is a Mix Tape (add that to your list too, you guys), this one’s a non-fiction music story.

Young and a widower, Sheffield finds a way to continue on with his life by surrounding himself with music… and a karaoke obsession. Turn Around takes readers across the country on a karaoke adventure, as he finds a way to start over.

Like The Big Rewind, it’s about falling in love, moving on, and the ways music, in some very strange ways sometimes, manages to bring people together.