Beige – Cecil Castellucci


When she is exiled to Los Angeles to spend two weeks with her dad – whom she knows mainly from a bunch of postcards – Katy figures she’ll smile politely and then bury her head in a book. But Katy’s dad is the Rat, the drummer for the infamous band Suck. Thrust into the city’s punk rock scene, Katy finds it hard to be so nice, especially with doom-and-gloom Lake, her father’s idea of a chaperone, ordering her around. Katy could let it all out like everyone else – pound on the skins and the cymbals, shout and scream onstage – but music is dangerous and Katy isn’t that kind of girl. So what kind of girl is she?

Katy and her mom are a team. They’ve always done everything together – everything. So when Katy’s mom tells her that she’s going on a research trip without her, Katy can hardly believe it. She really can’t believe it when she learns that she’s being shipped off to L.A for two weeks to stay with her dad.

The Rat aint going to be winning any prizes for Father Of The Year any time soon. He’s barely had anything to do with Katy her whole life. He tried to cross the border into Canada to see her once, but he got kicked out for life for attempting to carry drugs into the country. That’s the kind of guy he was – the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll type. He may have kicked the drugs and the booze now, but rock ‘n’ roll is something you just can’t kick. For The Rat, rock ‘n’ roll is in his blood. There is no living if you’re living a rockless life. He may still drum for a living, but he’s clean now and The Rat is determined to show Katy that he’s just a normal guy who wants a relationship with his only kid. As normal as any punk rock drummer can be, anyway.

But Katy isn’t having it. No sir. Why would she bother? He got her mom hooked on drugs. He was never there for her, ever. Apart from the fact that he’s the drummer in a pretty successful L.A based punk band, she barely knows anything about this guy. Why does she have to play the father-daughter game now?

Then she finds out that she has to stay for the whole summer, instead of the intended two weeks. Oh man. What a freaking nightmare.

I swear, my heart goes out to The Rat. He really does try and make a good go of it with Katy, but their lives are so different, so disconnected, that bumpy times are unavoidable. Katy could use a bit of a slap around the ears if you ask me. I think her reasons for being so bitter are genuine, I really do, but is all the whining really necessary? In a very fifteen-year-oldesque manner, Katy finds the darkness, the terrible, in absolutely everything. Having said that, I’m actually pretty glad that Beige was written through Katy’s perspective rather than anyone else’s. I identify with her more than any other character – crazy, unbearable whining aside. I enjoyed her journey a whole lot, and towards the end I actually felt a little excited about her triumph. The kid learns to loosen up a little and see life for what it really is – life. This isn’t a happy-go-lucky read, but it certainly left me feeling good.

If you’re into a bit of punk rock, then I think you’ll get an extra kick out of this one. The chapters are titled with awesome rocking song titles and punk rock references pepper the pages of this contemporary read. When the book kicks off, Katy’s affiliation with music or punk rock is zippo. Nada. Zilch. She knows nothing music, and doesn’t want to know anything either. But as her personal journey is carved out in the pages of this story, so is her musical education. At the back of the novel, Castellucci has compiled a playlist of punk rock tracks that Katy – I’m assuming the Katy that emerges at the end, rather than the beginning – gets down and rocks out to. I had a whole lot of fun downloading and listening to her journey, as well as reading the words on the page.

Beige is like any good punk rock song should be – dirty, angry, and straight to the point. Cecil Castellucci will rock your socks off with this one.

Rating [rating:4]