The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle hits home for anyone who’s ever had to deal with working hard for something they want.
I’m realizing the many authors have been writing in first person and sometimes it’s not necessary to do so, but in the case of The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle, I think it worked great. For main character Kiki Nichols, being in her head was pretty essential to understanding and empathizing with her, or maybe not empathizing with her, depending on how you feel about her actions throughout.
But I also felt it worked great for this story because you can see how she learns and tries to even understand herself and what she’s capable of.
Before we move forward, let me give you the overview of it. The story is about a young, shy, and geeky girl named Kiki who has a passion for music and wants to be an opera singer. So, with a goal in mind, she goes to a music summer camp at Krause, the college that’s offering a handful of fully-paid scholarships for their apparently exceptional music program.
Of course, Kiki has her heart set on one of those scholarships, but a lot can happen in the six weeks she’s at the camp that can make it more complicated than it should be, like losing her best friend right before camp, meeting a guy who likes the same things she does, including nerding out over a popular TV show, and having to deal with a possible mole within the group of opera students vying for a scholarship as well. So, while she attempts to focus solely on opera and getting that scholarship, several issues and situations present themselves to her that make it quite difficult to do so.
Relatable. I’ve used this word a few times before, however, in this case, it’s more relatable to me than any other character I’ve read about. Kiki has a few quirks about her, and those quirks I find so very fitting to how I was in my early years in college. Even though this takes place in the summer before she enters her senior year in high school, this peek into college life is pretty familiar. Everything is all new, and meeting people can be an awkward, fun, surreal, or semi-romantic event, depending on the person. For Kiki, it was all those things and more.
Not only that, but we see her going through what most everyone will go through at least a few times in their life, and that would be the feeling of inadequacy or being not up to par. We see this from Kiki throughout the book, but before it gets to the point of too much self-degradation, the author pulls back just enough for us to see Kiki grow within as each day and week pass.
Yes, while we do see her learn and grow from her experience at camp, it’s not without its bumps and turns and she messes up here and there, but that’s to be expected with teens at this age and at this juncture in their life, as they’re still trying to figure out stuff. And yes, those were stressful times and even just having a guy you like actually like you back was a big deal for someone like Kiki.
For that reason, I really appreciated Kiki and all her quirks, bad or good or normal. She is not that dissimilar to many others that will go through or are going through or have gone through the transition that is high school to college.
However, with as much as I did like the character, there were a few things about her and some of the other characters that I didn’t care for in regards to their reactions and decision making about certain events that happened. Given that’s more of a personal preference than anything wrong on the writing, you can take it or leave it. I don’t wish to give specifics about it as you can either agree with Kiki or not. So no, I didn’t agree with her decision making in all the things she did, but given the character’s age, it does make sense for her to act one way about something and act a different way about something else. I doubt there’s even one person that always made the most sound decisions in high school or in college.
Overall, it was an enjoyable story and relatable, especially to those who are passionate about geeky stuff and non-geeky stuff simultaneously, to those that have lost friendships, to those that gained friends, to those that know what they want, and to those that don’t.
Even though I didn’t exactly agree with the character on everything she did or think, Kiki and The Sound of Us will hold a special place for the college person in me.
As for author Julie Hammerle, this was a great debut novel. Hope to read more from her in the near future.
Publish date: June 7,2016
Order The Sound of Us on Amazon.