Weil, Cynthia. I’m Glad I Did. New York: Soho Teen, 2015. 978-1-61695-356-0. 264p. $18.99. Gr. 7 and up.
Justice Jeanette “JJ” Green was born into a family of lawyers and is expected to follow in her parents footsteps, but JJ is not interested in law. She dreams of being a songwriter! As a teenage girl in 1963, this is no easy task. JJ manages to land a job in the music business as a secretary thanks to her estranged Uncle Bernie. JJ meets Luke in the Brill Building elevator. He becomes her song-writing partner, and maybe something more? Can they write a song and record a demo by summer’s end? Or will JJ’s dreams of working in the music business be over? JJ gets the chance to record a demo with Dulcie Brown, a legendary singer who has fallen on hard times and is working as a custodian in the building. I’m Glad I Did has secrets, a tragedy, hidden identities, and a mystery. This book will keep you reading to find out what happens to all of the characters.
Historical Fiction Rachel Gutzler, Wilson High School
JJ is a great character. She is smart, driven, and follows her passion for songwriting. I always look for books that have music as a theme, and music was central to this book. I particularly enjoyed the cultural references of the early 60s and the knowledge that the author had of the recording industry. Cynthia Weil, although she is a first time YA author, was a songwriter at the Brill Building in the 1960s, and the story seemed very authentic because of her knowledge. It took a little while for the mystery/event to occur, so I kept reading, thinking that something bad was going to happen, but the story really picked up pace during the last half of the book and kept me very interested right up to the end. Great job to this first-time author.