This is What it Feels Like

I was looking through the EpicReads blog a few weeks ago and stumbled across an extended excerpt of this book. I quickly read it and needed to read the rest of the book. It finally came for me at the library and I read the rest of the book that day.


this is what it feels likeIt doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?

My Thoughts

4/5 stars

This book has so many things going for it that make it a great book. Hanna, Jules, and Dia are very different from one another and yet they make such a dynamic group of main characters. Each character struggles with her own internal conflict and their collective tumultuous past with each other. Like many books with multiple main characters, This is What it Feels Like is told in multiple points of view, plus a fourth surprise POV.

Rebecca Barrow did a wonderful job making these girls seem real and relatable. On the surface, Dia struggles with being a great teen mom to her daughter, Jules struggles with bad romance, and Hanna struggles with alcoholism. But beyond these obvious struggles are very relatable internal struggles that many of us have experienced in our lives, like trust issues, self-confidence and insecurity, taking risks, dealing with grief, growing apart from your best friends, and so much more.

What’s amazing is that these girls have experienced so much and still make a point to learn from their past and turn their pain into something beautiful. The music they have created is a reflection of themselves as individuals and as a group. Watching the girls grow personally and as a unit over the course of the book was heartwarming and touching.

My only issue with the book is minor, but I felt like parts of the book dragged on. I really wanted to learn more about the characters and see the plot develop at a consistent pace throughout the book, but some of the chapters, primarily in the beginning of the book, seem like boring filler chapters. Once I got further into the book these chapters were less common, but it made the beginning seem longer than necessary.

This is a book filled with amazing girls going through tough times and finding their way out through music, and I loved reading about their journeys and watching them grow. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you love music and books that touch on darker content like addiction and grief.

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