Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert – A stunning tale of suburbia’s darker underbelly by the critically acclaimed author of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Ballads are the kinds of songs that Kara McNaughton likes best. Not the cliche ones where a diva hits her dramatic high note or a rock band tones it down a. About BALLADS OF SUBURBIA: There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of.

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There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs.

Booklist Review

Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young kuwhnert.

Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

Read the Epilogue which is really the prologue here! Please note this is not the final version as it will appear in the book. Don’t hesitate to ask them to order it for you! You can also order it from your preferred online bookseller: Kuehnert nails the raw vulnerability of teendom and delivers a hard-hitting and mesmerizing read.

It is a fertile, confusing and intense place, and Kuehnert never holds back. But like a good ballad, she keeps the stories taut and precise, with a touch of heart thrown in for good measure. It brings the dark, gritty reality of teenage culture in suburban America to the surface through a cast of characters that are hard not to love.

Like Last Exit to BrooklynStephanie Kuehnert puts a face on the drug addled and disaffected youth of the quiet, tree-lined streets of Oak Park, Illinois.

Like Yates, she puts a dark and dystopic spin on the outwardly beautiful face of the suburbs. This book is an achievement and solidifies the place of Stephanie Kuehnert as a powerhouse writer, and one that is unafraid to tackle hard and tender issues. I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

It’s been haunting me for days. It will open your eyes in a way no other book can. It was harsh, raw, cruel, sad, and painful, but the scariest of all is that this is real. In one powerful novel, whole worlds are exposed. I recommend this novel to anyone ready to see the truth. I may not have shared the experiences of the characters in the book, but I recognize their journey and their voices.

Stephanie Kuehnert is amazing and I will gladly read anything she writes from here on out. Furthermore, she helps you relate to them.

Now without further adieu, here is the first chapter. We begin at the end. The Ballad of a Homecoming “And the embers never fade in your city by the lake The place where you were born. Symbolic, considering they’d also heralded my exit. And it couldn’t have happened anywhere else: It clung to Stacey’s auburn ponytail, my freshly-dyed black hair, and the clothing beneath both of our winter coats.

I’ll never know how he missed it. A rare stroke of good luck? The karma I was owed for agreeing to come home in the first place? I’d been gone for over four years. Around the holidays Stacey always tried to guilt me into visiting. She’d remind me that my mom missed me or point out that there was no chance for a white Christmas in Los Angeles.


She knew I never intended to set foot in the Chicago area again after everything that had happened at the end of junior year of high school, but the girl wouldn’t give it up. Finally, she resorted to playing dirty, namedropping her daughter. She wants to know why she’s never met Mama’s best friend.

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She gestured to the car seat in the back, bragging, “Do you know how many times I’ve used that thing to get out of a ticket? I couldn’t take my eyes off of the colors, watching the way they lit up the beige seats of the Cavalier and remembering how they looked reflected in my friend Ava’s wide, brown eyes and splashing across my mother’s ashen face the night I came to surrounded by paramedics in Scoville Park.

I’d said, “Adrian,” and when Ava heard me over the commotion, her jaw clenched. He left you here to die and saved his own ass,” she growled. I closed my eyes, silently begging the heroin to drag me all the way under. That was one of my last memories of home. Stacey eased the car to the side of the road and turned down the radio. Old reflexes kicking in, I lit up khehnert cigarette in what I wuburbia certain would be a failed attempt to cover the pot stink.

Back in high school, it was the method everyone used when getting pulled over, but cops rarely fell for it. Stacey’s litany of excuses began the moment she rolled down her window and smiled flirtatiously at the frowning officer. I did not want to spend my first night back home at the Berwyn police station. Why had I agreed to Stacey’s suggestion of taking “the long route” from the airport?

I’d known it was code for stopping by her mother’s basement apartment and getting stoned. Stacey’s mom, Beth, had been smoking us up since freshman year of high school. And sure enough, Beth had suburbiz the door with a bong in her hand, screeching, “Kara-leeeena! In naming her daughter Lina, Stacey had effectively named her after me.

Beth’s place was the same as it had been the last time I’d been there, the mild June night the summer after junior year when Stacey told me that she was pregnant and planned to keep the baby.

So Stacey moved out of her mom’s place and into prematurely married life. I OD’d in Scoville Park, and my balladss and I collectively decided that it would be best for me to kuhnert live with my dad in Wisconsin until I finished high school.

I hadn’t come back for Christmas or birthdays or Stacey’s wedding or Lina’s birth. I stayed in Madison and held my breath that my really poor grades from ballds year wouldn’t keep me out of USC’s film program. When my acceptance letter came, I went straight to L. After a long, bone-crushing hug, we followed Beth and her hennaed curls through the kitchen–the sink filled with dirty dishes as usual–down the short hallway–the floor strewn with clothes and junk mail–to the living room which she clearly still used as her bedroom even though kueynert could have moved into Stace’s old room and had a real bed instead of a futon.

We sat on the futon mattress–pulled off of its frame and laying on the floor in center of the room like always–and passed around the bong. Beth asked incessant questions about “LA-LA land.


What was the hot guy quotient at USC? Had I really given up writing screenplays to work on movie soundtracks?

Was there money in that? Didn’t I know I was supposed to be writing a big blockbuster so I could move her, Stacey, and Lina out to my mansion in the hills? Beth only breathed when she inhaled pot smoke and hardly gave me time to respond to her question before throwing another one at me.

And this had gone on until Stacey declared, “We gotta get home before Jason gets pissed. Since freshman year, conversations with Stacey had always come in spurts. At first, days went by, and then, by the middle of high school, I didn’t see her for months at a time. In grade school, it stephwnie only kuuehnert the two of us, we could chatter all afternoon until her mother came home, but after Stacey had discovered boys and weed, she was always headed somewhere or had someone coming to her, so I had to catch her in the moments in between.

I listened to her talk about her latest argument with Jason as she wove through Berwyn, past the greasy spoons that lit up Ogden with their neon signs, and then down the quieter East Avenue, peppered with brick bungalows and tall apartment buildings. Stacey’s fights with Stephamie were generally minor–considering the odds against their teenage marriage of convenience and Stacey’s feisty nature, they were doing quite well–but Stacey liked to dramatize things as much as possible.

Since both of us were absorbed in her tale, neither of us paid attention to her poor driving. Then, of course, that stupid cop pulled us over. I smoked two cigarettes while Stacey turned on the charm.

But the worried mother routine failed to impress. And he went off to his car to do his cop thing. Stacey was so irritated, she didn’t even talk. We just sat there chain-smoking in kjehnert for ten minutes until he came back. She fished for compassion one more time. We don’t have health insurance either, you know. Stacey managed to contain her rage until he slammed his car door.

Ballads of Suburbia eBook by Stephanie Kuehnert | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster UK

A cold wind grazed my cheeks. I shivered, but enjoyed the novelty of it since I hadn’t experienced real winter for years. I fumbled through the pockets of my hoodie and offered her my last piece. After she took it, she just stared at me, her aqua eyes burning into mine. My eyes darted from her finely plucked eyebrows to the freckled bridge of her nose and down to the familiar scar indented on her chin–from a bike accident when she was six, a year before we met.

She shook her head soberly. What exactly keuhnert it that you do again? I don’t get to sburbia out with rock stars. I just do the grunt work, but that’s most internships after all. Her indifferent expression was quickly replaced with a look of concern, though. You wrote scripts in high school all the time. I worked on scripts junior year.