SKYLER’S SOPHOMORE SOUNDTRACK
Michael C. Barrett
Independently Published (2019)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (2/2020)
Michael C. Barrett’s “Skyler’s Sophomore Soundtrack” is the second installment in the Little Bram Series. The first book, “Little Bram,” followed 14-year-old Skyler Bram through her freshman year of high school as she battled through having to share her home and family with a half-sister she barely knows, boy drama, and shifting friendships. Now, Skyler is facing her sophomore year of high school, but there are still more changes coming her way. Her arch enemy half-sister is now her best friend and confidant. She has entered into and suffered through deciding to end her first romantic relationship. Most importantly, Skyler learns to accept herself, her desires, and her family as the blessings they are and how to not crumble under the forces of peer pressure.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Barrett’s follow-up to “Little Bram,” but I am glad to say that I was more than presently surprised. I found the second book just as enjoyable, maybe even more so, than the first, and I always looked forward to my lunchbreak at work so I could read a few more chapters about Skyler’s life. Even though I am older than the protagonist and have already gone through the high school stage, I found Skyler’s story and experiences to be so relatable. She’s an authentic, young teenage heroine that a lot of younger teenage girls could really learn a lot from.
Skyler’s biggest challenge during her sophomore year is coming to terms with her growing crush on her new friend, Becca. Over the summer, Skyler had dated a popular boy in the year above her. He was cute, kind, and they got along well, but there was something missing. Skyler didn’t understand what was wrong, and whether it was something that was her fault or something that was natural. I admit that I never had to go through the type of challenges that Skyler did, but I did watch friends in high school have to learn how to come to terms with their sexuality.
One thing that I admired most about Skyler’s characterization in this book was that while she was, of course, afraid about what people would say when they found out she liked girls, she did not refer to her feelings as something to be ashamed of or as being morally wrong. She recognized that she was different, and that she might be ostracized for it for a while, but Skyler always managed to stay true to who she was and what she believed in. It can be really hard to keep your feet on the ground while going through these phases during our teenage and young adult years. Therefore, this is an attitude and a lesson that young girls and grown women can always learn from and strive to emulate.
“Skyler’s Sophomore Soundtrack” could be a really influential book for girls, or boys, or those who do not identify as being one specific gender, either, to read in order to feel more secure about themselves and assure themselves that they are not dirty, wrong, or messed-up. Something I’ve always thought that we need to teach teenagers and young adults more is to not be afraid of their emotions. They can be intense and sometimes we can let them steer us into some impulsive or reckless situations, but ultimately, our emotions make us who we are. Love is not bound by biology or gender. This book is a fantastic example of that. I’m really hopeful that it will come to enjoy the wide audience and love that it deserves.