Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is.
Songs That Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas
(Jared Thomas is a Nukunu writer and academic.)
Published: August 1st 2016 by Magabala Books
This story brought back memories of my first year of university. I’d recommend this to new adults who are seeking coming of age stories that edge beyond the young adult years. So far, Becoming Kirrali Lewis is the only other book I’ve read, which shows what it’s like to flip between moments of determination and uncertainty in student life. Roxy’s struggle to keep in touch with her support base of friends and family will also be relatable for some.
Roxy and her dad’s love for music made me smile. I met a lot of people who played live at pubs/hotels during university, so I liked reading Roxy’s attempts at trying to snag a gig. It was also fun to pick up nods to Jimi Hendrix, Warumpi Band and David Bowie. Roxy also gradually comes out to the people she trusts and finds a supportive environment. She and Ana bond over music, mutual attraction and their experiences of growing up in Australia.
The frank discussions about the casual racism they both experience reminds me of conversations with friends who can relate. These casual conversations also show how Roxy (Indigenous Australian on her father’s side) and Ana (Maori on her father’s side) both bond over being bicultural/biracial. Roxy and Ana identify as biracial in the story but note that there are also Indigenous individuals who don’t identify with the term ‘biracial’, so each person has their individual way of expressing identity. I appreciate contemporary books like Songs That Sound Like Blood that reflect the intersectional reality of Australia. We definitely need more of them.