Member Reviews

“maybe there’s something beautiful to being known like this. maybe being seen isn’t a curse.”

decklee cassel is a mega country star who keeps her fans begging for more. darren purchase is a 17 year old from a small town she feels too big for, searching for answers and a way out.

the physical description of decklee cassel reminds me of dolly parton, her character reminds me of evelyn hugo, and her relationship with fans reminds me of that between taylor swift and the swifties. darren purchase felt like me - it felt like chapters of my own journal taken out and published. her yearning for answers while feeling so unsure of herself felt sooo personal.

i’ve found out this year that i looove the “beloved celebrity with a big secret” trope, and ETYHTS delivers on that. it also hits home reading about a well-known, beyond loved celebrity who *still* doubts herself, questions if she’s loved, and feels alone in the world.

as someone who grew up in a midwestern town i felt too big for and dreamt of getting out of, as someone who’s constantly questioned who and how she loved, as someone who has grappled with the ache of “will they love me for me?” - this sophomore novel by jenna voris really hit home and felt personal. an EASY five star read for me that i can’t wait to reread in april when it’s released. 🫶🏻

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Darren has grown up with the music of Decklee Cassel and shares a love of that music with her mother. When a contest to discover a lost song with a big cash prize comes up, Darren wants in. She heads out to follow the clues on a road trip with a coworker. Along the way, the true story of Decklee is shared as clues and important moments are shared. Darren also learns a lot about herself as she goes. This was a unique story, and I loved the overlay of past and present, as well as the connections between Decklee and Darren that came up in a variety of ways. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this April 2024 release!

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Thanks to NetGalley and the published for an early copy of the book

This was my first time reading this author so I went into this completely blind but the mention of Daisy Jones and the Six in the precis intrigued me plus I was in love with the cover since the moment I laid my eyes on it.

What an incredible journey this was. Told in alternating POVs for Darren in the present and Decklee in the past , I was enthralled by how these two lives came together and what success meant for these two. Decklee's self preservation was a prominent theme throughout the book and Darren shared those traits too which at first kind of made me see them as villains but it didn't take me long to realise that they were simply being human and the price they paid to make their dreams a reality was a steep one.

I loved these flawed characters with all my heart. Traveling through different states for the treasure hunt Decklee organised, it was a great way for Kendall and Darren to fall in love and made this a beautiful heartwarming read.

5 stars.

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Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an earky copy of this book.

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2024, I'm so glad i got to read it early it did not only reacg expectations but surpass them. I'm a sucker for celebrity/musician novels and this was just so good.

Every time you hear that song is about Darren who wants to leave her town behind, it's Decklee Cassel and about listening, about loving music and healing .
Jenna Voris writes a really compelling story with a witty and quick style, I absolutely adored this book, it made me swoon and laugh and just feel seen, i felt so connected to the characters and I was hooked by the first line and never let go till the last line.

"They say to never meet your idols. But should you upend your life for a quest designed by one?

Seventeen-year-old aspiring journalist Darren Purchase has been a lifelong fan of country music legend Decklee Cassel, who's as famous for her classic hits as she is for her partnership with songwriter Mickenlee Hooper. The same Mickenlee who mysteriously backed out of the limelight at the height of their careers, never to be heard from again.

Now, Decklee's televised funeral marks the unveiling of her long-awaited time capsule. But when it's revealed to be empty, a long trail of scavenger hunt clues unfolds, leading to a whopping cash prize for whoever finds the real thing. Darren knows there's a story there-and she's going to be the one to break it. Even if it means a spontaneous road trip with her annoying co-worker, Kendall.

Flashback to 1963, where a young, runaway Decklee has her sights set on fame and glory. She claws her way to the top over the years that follow, but it's Mickenlee's lyrics that help rocket her to stardom. But as their relationship evolves beyond the professional, it threatens everything Decklee has worked for. What else will she sacrifice to hold on to her dreams? "

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"She told me it was okay to take it slow, that everyone learns at their own pace, but my pace is wildfire. My pace is lightning and luck and all the desperate longing of the universe." (loc. 161*)

In the early 1960s, Decklee has a dream, and she'll do anything to make it come true—even if that means losing everyone she loves.

"People never talked about Decklee Cassel being from Mayberry unless it was to compliment her for getting out, because here's the truth: no one cares about towns like this until they're behind you." (loc. 238)

And in the present day, Darren is convinced that she's made for more than Mayberry, the same small town Decklee grew up in. She won't destroy everything in her path to get out...but she will go on a quest to find Decklee's last album, which could be enough to jumpstart her dreams.

I'd just listened to an interview with Dolly Parton when I read this, and so that's the voice that I heard Decklee's sections in (yes, yes, I know that a Tennessee accent is not the same as an Arkansas accent). Decklee is not Dolly Parton, though: she may have faced some of the same barriers—poverty, being a woman in a male-dominated industry in a male-dominated culture, people assuming that a Southern accent means lack of intelligence, people assuming that being blonde means lack of intelligence—but Decklee's stratospheric rise is, by necessity, grasping and calculated. She has the goods—but she needs every advantage to deliver on them.

It keeps Decklee from being an entirely sympathetic character, but that's what I loved most about the book. Darren's story is much more standard YA fare: there's a boy, a minor identity crisis, a journalism dream, some family concerns. Darren is much more easily likeable because we've all been there, one way or another. Decklee, though, raises hard questions about just how much a dream is worth—are there things you would not willingly give up? Is her dream worth it, in the end?

I would have liked to spend more time with Decklee, because there's an extent to which her voice is more distant, less possible to get a full read on. I wouldn't mind a follow-up book about Mickenlee, either—she's far more sympathetic but also less fleshed out, and there is much about her story that remains a mystery in this book. I can hope...

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy through NetGalley.

*I read an ARC, and quotes may not be final.

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This was one of my favorite reads this year, truly, and a favorite overall. Everything about this book worked for me.

I'm a sucker for a good road trip book and the scavenger hunt aspect was so fun and kept things interesting. I was rooting so hard for Darren! The romance was cute and Darren's character arc throughout the book was extremely well done and believable.

For me, though, Decklee's chapters might have been my favorite part of the book, because boy could she be a little shit, but she really was fire. The ambition she had is exactly the kind of ambition that people love to read about when it comes to cis men, so I was rooting for her success, even when it hurt the people around her. I always understood her decisions. Because I hungered with her. And I knew her successes were coming because the book opens with her obituary, but also Decklee herself knew what was coming the same way I did. That's how confident she was. She's a fascinating character to read about.

I can't wait to preorder this one and read a physical copy, preferably during a road trip. I'm ready to take the journey again with both of these characters ASAP and yes I will cry again and yes it will be amazing.

Thank you to Viking and NetGalley for the eARC.

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no my usual genre and maybe this is why it didn't really click with me. the premise was amazing and the writing was so good, but i just couldn't connect to the story. i'd love to come back to it, i think, because i feel like a second read will make me appreciate it more.

They say to never meet your idols. But they never said anything about upending your life for a quest designed by one.

Seventeen-year-old aspiring journalist Darren Purchase has been a lifelong fan of country music legend Decklee Cassel, who’s as famous for her classic hits as she is for her partnership with songwriter Mickenlee Hooper. The same Mickenlee who mysteriously backed out of the limelight at the height of their careers, never to be heard from again. Now, Decklee’s televised funeral marks the unveiling of her long-awaited time capsule. But when it’s revealed to be empty, a long trail of scavenger hunt clues unfolds, leading to a whopping cash prize for whoever finds the real capsule. Darren knows there’s a story there—and she’s going to be the one to break it. Even if it means a spontaneous road trip with her coworker, Kendall.

Flashback to 1963, where a young, runaway Decklee has her sights set on fame and glory. As she claws her way to the top over the years that follow, it’s Mickenlee’s lyrics that help rocket her to stardom. But as their relationship evolves beyond the professional, it threatens everything Decklee has worked for. What else will she sacrifice to hold on to her dreams?

Told in alternating perspectives, Every Time You Hear That Song is a queer coming-of-age story celebrating country music, complicated women, and living authentically. There’s more to Decklee’s story than Darren ever could have guessed, but the real story she has to tell is her own.

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I absolutely loved Made of Stars, so I was super happy to see that she wrote a regular romance novel that ended well! This was so sweet and perfect and made my heart happy. I loved the back and forth and dual POVs, and a great commentary on big dreams and loving the wrong people. I hope she writes more romances because they are so good!

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This was such a moving and brilliantly written book!

The book is narrated by (1) Darren, the MC of the present time, as she follows the treasure hunt left by her beloved singer from across the grave, and (2) the singer herself in the past timeline, as she navigates her life into stardom.

The author has done a brilliant job of writing both the good and the bad (emotion-wise) about two young girls who dream big; I loved the parallels between the two of them, especially as the story went on further, and the reader can clearly understand where they both are coming from, and how one eventually follows the right path whereas the other goes deeper into a hell of her own making. I would not say no if the author writes a sequel for Darren a few years or a decade down the line 😭

Also!! The bi-rep had me screaming, it was done perfectly ❤️ the confusion, the "oh, bisexual means this? I was this all along but somehow I didn't connect the label and myself" was so perfect 😭

TWs - homophobia (as experienced by celebrities in the industry)

-- ty to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy!

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For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. Darren, the main character, really radiates heart and that fearsome desire to be more than what can be found in a small town. The story is split between the current POV (Darren's) and the POV of her favorite country music star, Decklee Cassel. Decklee is a complicated character and, honestly, difficult to fully like, even as you understand her and her motivations. The parallels between Decklee and Darren and where they diverge are really excellently explored, in my opinion. And, although I wished for a little more build-up, I did think the romance between Darren and Kendall was very sweet. The highlight for me was the banter the two of them had.

The one thing that I'm not sure I really liked (no spoilers) was the ending. Narratively, it made sense, but I'm not sure that it satisfied me as a reader. I wanted something a little different from it that I'm not sure I got. Again, it falls in line with the overall theme of the book, but it makes the entire book feel a bit bittersweet. That may work for some people. I'm just not sure it worked for me.

Overall, I'd really recommend this is you want more books about queer teens navigating queerness (especially in a small town in the south) and the feeling of being trapped by the expectations that come with a small town.

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It was lyrical, sweet, and beautifully written. I love the "treasure hunt" theme, the country music and small town vibes, the underlying sweet tone of romances... everything! Decklee, Mick and Markell journey was amazing, BUT Darren and Kendall owns my heart. LOVE this book so much!

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Thank you NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Young Readers Group, Viking Books for Young Readers for allowing me to read this eArc in exchange for an honest review. All the views and opinions expressed are purely my own and not affiliated with any brand.

I cannot say enough about how beautiful Jenna Voris writing is! I love to highlight parts of books where I think the quotes are absolutely beautiful. I have so many highlights in my eArc! Every time I think I have just read the best sentence of the book, there is another one that follows.

The story is a lot of fun. It reminds me of Ready Player One but without the 80's references. I enjoyed following Darren on her journey of not only self discovery but to find treasure. I think everyone has a musical artist that touches their soul with their words so the story is easy to relate to. I absolutely recommend this book to people who love adventure, music and a good roadtrip!

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A little bit "Evelyn Hugo," a little bit Taylor Swift's "dorothea," a little bit "National Treasure." But I thought the most interesting component was its take on the concept of home — what it can do and what it ultimately can't. A fun, quick read with a surprising amount of pathos.

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I loved this book! If you couldn't put down The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and have practically an entire playlist dedicated to Taylor Swift songs (I think the "You're On Your Own, Kid" girlies will especially appreciate this one), Every Time You Hear That Song is for you. A love letter to the life-changing power of music, with a small-town setting and a fresh, fascinating concept, the story follows two alternating perspectives, that of country music legend Decklee Cassel, and rising high school senior Darren Purchase, who dreams of becoming a journalist. On a quest to uncover the contents of Decklee's mysterious time capsule after her death, Darren is forced to confront some unexpected truths about Decklee's story—and figure out how she wants to tell her own.

I so enjoyed this book, and literally could not put it down! I thought the alternating perspectives were the perfect way to tell the story, but I did find myself wishing we got more of Decklee's. I was a little disappointed that the book skipped over some huge chunks of her life, and I just wanted to know a bit more about her relationships and POV. Especially because I felt like on Darren's side, readers got to know her character really well, and the relationships she had with her mom, her friends, her coworker Kendall, etc., were so fleshed-out. I think it makes sense to have Decklee be this sort of mysterious, not entirely likable figure, because she's lived almost her whole life in the public eye, and yet, most people don't know who she truly is or get to see the less perfect, curated parts of her personality. Even so, I would have liked to see more of her somehow. Still, I found both protagonists to be such fascinating characters, and thought their stories were woven together really cleverly, so even the things I would have expanded on didn't distract from my overall enjoyment of the book! I also loved the writing style—the story was so engaging and just beautifully written. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartwrenching, emotional and uplifting, Every Time You Hear That Song is a story readers won't soon forget, and I'd definitely recommend it! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

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4 stars!
Thanks to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for an e-ARC and the opportunity to read this in advance.
I throughly enjoyed this book. The story of Darren fighting against the conflicting emotions of growing up in a small town felt very relatable to me and a lot of this story is FOR THE FANGIRLS. I really felt connected to a lot of the emotions and the writing is well crafted and helped me further be engrossed in the emotions. 1 star off because there was unfortunately a lot of times where I was wanting more details and context that I was not given which at times made the characters and the events feel half baked. I was willing to give some leeway given that it is YA but I also think it does a minor disservice to younger readers who I am sure would want the nitty gritty as well. Overall very enjoyable and full of heart despite it's flaws.

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oooohhhhhhhh this book is definitely for the swifties. I really enjoyed this one and it made my gay, small town heart feel so seen.

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Wow, April can't come soon enough. This book was equal parts heartwarming and heartwrenching, full of hope and angst. The writing was gorgeous, almost like a song itself, and I couldn't put it down. I saw so much of myself in Darren, especially in her relationship with her mom, and the ending was perfectly bittersweet. It reminded me a lot of the small town vibes of Dumplin' actually.

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Overall I really enjoyed this book, it was easy to get drawn into. The characters enabled me to fall in love with the story.

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I don't usually read a lot of YA contemporary because it never really resonates with me, but this one certainly did. I had so much fun following Darren on her quest across the South and even found myself cheering for Decklee's success despite everything. I love these characters and I love the themes of queerness woven through both POVs.

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I loved the story, the world building and meeting the different characters. I felt completely immersed in the story and couldn't stop reading it.

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