Playing bass for Naked, Lili, 16, witnesses punk rock’s rise from counterculture obscurity to center stage in London’s music scene and comes face to face with the Troubles, Northern Ireland’s bitter, violent guerilla conflict.
Abandoned by her Mexican, film-director father, Rafael Garcia, left on her own by her Welsh, mentally ill, ex–fashion model mother, Lili’s mostly raised herself. Flattered, she’s compliant when charismatic white boy Curtis Ray taps her for Naked and then to be his girlfriend. She shares his passion for music—his appetite for drugs, not so much. Between gigs and partying with the Sex Pistols and the Clash, Lili finds herself drawn to Naked’s new rhythm guitarist, William “Billy the Kid” Bonney from Belfast, brimming with talent. But William has secret priorities that outrank Lili and Naked; he misses a gig that could have led to a record contract. First published in Great Britain in 2011, the novel is culture- and time-specific, referencing British realities likely unfamiliar to U.S. readers (punk minutiae, skinhead vs. punk animosity, NME, squats, and skips). A more serious impediment is Lili herself, narrating the story 35 years later. She serves as readers’ eyes, but Lili’s strictly an onlooker. Her choices neither drive the unfolding plot nor influence crucial decisions made by others. She remains a passive receptacle to the end.
Recommended for fans of punk rock and 1970s British counterculture. (Historical fiction. 13-16)