There was once a time when you couldn’t fit every song that ever existed into a small metal box and put it in your pocket. I know that might sound horrible, but it’s true. Before iPods, CDs, and cassettes, there was vinyl. Back then, you could run your fingers along the grooves of a recording and actually feel the music that would soon be blasting through your speakers. I’m not necessarily saying it was better…just different.
The Vinyl Princess
, by Yvonne Prinz, is a love letter to that outdated media of yesteryear, which certain groups of people will always swear by. Sixteen-year-old Allie is one of those devout few. Not only does she love vinyl, she knows a heckuva lot about the bands that are on it. It’s no wonder that she has the perfect job of working at her favorite record store this summer.
It’s not all perfect for Allie though. She’s feels lonely and detached from the people around her, destined to remain in isolation for eternity, save for her record collection. Still, she pines for the dreamboat mystery man who pops in now and then, asking for Joe Strummer solo albums. Despite her own single status, she tries to help both her best friend and her mother with their own relationships.
Still, Allie’s foremost love is the music. She has started her own blog to educate the masses of the joys of vinyl albums: the size and smell of the records, the tactile sense that you just don’t get with a click wheel. And of course there are many band suggestions. I have to say, her taste is pretty on point. Five out of five rating for albums by the Pogues
and Tom Waits
? Don’t mind if I do. Allie is ready to give you a whirlwind lesson of pop music that will leave you spinning like a turntable.
Author Yvonne Prinz has drawn heavily from her own life to craft this novel of mixtapes and melodrama, romance and records. Prinz founded Amoeba Records in the San Francisco area with her husband, and I imagine many of the book’s side anecdotes stem from those experiences.
The book is also a love letter to Berkeley, California, specifically Telegraph Avenue. Set around this college town at a time when most of the streets are devoid of students, the neighborhood is dealing with a wave of store robberies. Still, a few holdups might be better than the Bridge and Tunnel crowd who come in on weekends and gawk at the cost of a White Stripes
record. Allie begins to find that she has many kindred spirits in the colorful characters on Telegraph Avenue, and she is lot less isolated and lonely than she initially thought.
So sit back, put your headphones on, drop the needle onto the groove, and get wrapped up in the Vinyl Princess. You’ll be happy you did.