When nine-year-old Cali Sky Braithwaite discovers an acoustic guitar mysteriously left in her bedroom closet, the muses descend, possessing her for the next fifteen years, tantalizing her with visions of a musical ideal.
By 1980 disco was dead, punk had reared its pissed-off head, New Wave had washed ashore, and Cali Sky remained oblivious to it all, thanks to her protective parents. Until she meets Brodie, who knocks on her door one day with a self-assured smile and a Pee Chee folder adorned with the handwritten names of the latest countercultural bands. She teaches him how to play guitar, he introduces her to KROQ-FM and the musical underground spreading all around her parents' southern California home.
Together they explore the possibilities of their instruments and the limits of friendship as they seek inspiration, rooted in Cali Sky's beauty-pained visions as well as her discoveries of the unexpected intersections between rock and roll and her parents’ hidden past.
AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL
HOW CALI SKY GETS HER FIRST GUITAR WHEN HER FAMILY MOVES INTO A NEW HOUSE. IN THIS SCENE, SHE ENTERS HER SEEMINGLY EMPTY BEDROOM:
The sound of her last hummed note echoed in the small room. Though empty, the space bore signs of the previous owners: spot-stained carpeting, scuffed walls, and nicked baseboards. The morning sun filtered through a dirty window. Cali Sky bounded in and as she surveyed the room, something caught her eye. The house was not empty. Propped in the corner of the tiny closet stood an acoustic guitar. The body of the instrument was light brown. Its pick guard was pine green and tear shaped, giving the impression that the guitar was weeping from its sound hole. Cali Sky approached slowly and cautiously. She stopped at the threshold of the closet and became acutely aware that she was alone. Her parents were still outside, laying out a strategy for the soon-to-arrive moving crew. Their voices sounded distant and dreamlike.
When she stepped into the closet, she found that the guitar was nearly as tall as she was. She reached out her hand and fingered the edge of the guitar body, tracing its gradual curves and feeling its smooth surface. Then she brushed her right thumb across the low E string. Although the contact between flesh and instrument was slight, Cali Sky could hear reverberation in the room from that deep, single note. She smiled. And as it traveled up her face, the smile became most expressive in the eyes, revealing in their blueness not only the joy of surprise, but the promise of possibilities and the thrill of mischief.