Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes
Reviewed by Savanah Baugh
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Published on March 13, 2007, by Dell Publishing
ASTAL RI Book of the Year
Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year (Outstanding Merit)
RI Teen Book Award (nominated)
Boston Authors Club Award (finalist)
Top 10 BookSense Pick
A Richie’s Pick
2010 Sequoyah Master List (High School Category) by the Oklahoma Library Association
When I was nine, I sat down with my sister to watch the newest Disney Channel Original Movie. It starred Teddy from “Good Luck Charlie,” Velma from “Scooby-Doo,” and that one guy from “Zeke and Luther,” which was why we were so excited to watch it. That movie was Lemonade Mouth. Roughly an hour and forty minutes after the movie had begun, we had fallen in love with its diverse and likeable characters, fun and catchy music, and unique and encouraging story. From that moment on, we were both obsessed. You can imagine my joy when five years later, I found out was based on a book that was even better.
Lemonade Mouth follows the story of five high school freshmen- Olivia Whitehead, Wendel “Wen” Gifford, Stella Penn, Charlie Hirsch, and Mohini “Mo” Banerjee -who meet in detention and end up forming a band to help each other, as well as themselves, overcome the struggles of high school and their own lives.
Although I had seen the Disney Channel movie version of the story first, the movie had followed its source material so loosely that the book itself often had me questioning where the story was going to go next. I often sympathized, and even empathized, with the struggles of the characters and felt happy for them when they received their own little version of a “happy ending”.
When I finished the book, I felt as though I’d had an increase in my self confidence. After reading about such relatable characters overcome their struggles and feel confident in themselves, I was starting to feel the same way about myself. The book discusses several topics, but the most impactful one for me was the topic of death and grief, which go hand-in-hand. It taught me to be thankful for the life I was given and to embrace it.
I found this book to be very unique and memorable. It teaches a lesson about being yourself and overcoming life’s obstacles, which has really been done to death, but the book teaches these lessons in its own unique way. It also touches on serious topics, such as grief and feeling like an outsider, but it is still well-balanced with the book’s positive message, which is exactly why I would recommend it.
While reading the book, I had only two problems- one minor, and one major. The only minor problem I had was the band’s unconvincing ability to create music using anything, even the combination of a rubber band and tapping on a desk. The only major problem I had was when Wen, one of Lemonade Mouth’s five band members, talked about his inner struggle to accept his dad’s young new girlfriend, Sydney, a gorgeous twenty-eight year old graphic designer, due to Wen’s larger than life crush on her, which could get a bit inappropriate at times.
One of the many subjects the book touches upon is bullying. Most books that talk about this subject talk about the main protagonist’s struggle against the bully, not to mention their internal struggle. In this book, however, the characters push through that struggle and even use a nickname a bully gave them- Lemonade Mouth -as their band name, which shows the reader that, even in a negative situation, there can be a positive outcome.
Lemonade Mouth did an excellent job achieving its goal by including characters that were relatable and likeable, which helped with the impact of its lesson. I believe that the reason why I found the characters to be so relatable is because of personal experiences that I have had that helped me relate to this book, such as grieving over the loss of loved ones, feeling pressured to be perfect, and feeling like an outcast for being different from everyone else. The book’s ending suggests that the five friends could end up pursuing a career with their new band, which they do attempt in the book’s sequel, which also seemed to be the only thing that felt left out. If you are struggling, or have struggled, with self esteem, then this book has the perfect, encouraging story for you.