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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Enter your mobile number or email address below and we’ll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer – no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. The summer before I entered second grade usburbia my brother Liam started kindergarten, Dad got the promotion he’d been after for two years and my parents had enough money to move us from the South Side of Chicago to its suburb, Oak Park.

When I say “suburb,” you might envision subdivisions that center on a strip mall or a man-made lake and “ticky-tacky box houses,” as Maya’s grandmother would call them. You know, where the only thing that varies from one house to the suubrbia is the color of the paint job. But Oak Park is not one of those suburbs. Separated from the West Side of Chicago by an imaginary line down the middle of Austin Boulevard, Oak Park still looks like part of the city.

The suburbja were built in the same era and are of the same style. The east-west streets have the same names. You can catch the “L” in Oak Park and be downtown in fifteen minutes.

The big difference is the feel: My parents talked up Oak Park like it was a fairy-tale kingdom. An excellent number of parks, trees, “good” schools, and libraries per capita. Chic, independently run shops populating the main streets and the pedestrian mall in the center of town.

Houses of the Frank Lloyd Wright ilk sprawling like midwestern miniplantations across two or three normal-size lots on the north side.

Classic Victorian “painted ladies” speckling the entire town. My parents couldn’t dream of owning those houses, but our four-bedroom had an enclosed sun porch at the front, a deck out back, and a living room with a real working fireplace. It was a huge step up from the bottom half of the two-flat we occupied in the city.

My parents claimed suburbia was safer than Chicago, but I certainly didn’t find it kinder and gentler. On my first day of school, I was approached by Maggie Young during recess. She was always trailed by an entourage of five or six girls.

Two of them were her best friends; the rest acted as servants in hopes of winning her favor.

When they came up to me, I smiled, mistakenly stephanid I would be welcomed to join them on the playground. Instead, I was given a bizarre test of my coolness. Maggie asked if my jacket had a YKK zipper. When I checked and responded that it didn’t, she scoffed, “Does your family shop at Kmart or something?

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I bet those aren’t even real Keds. I stared down at my dirty white sneakers, both ashamed and confused. I hardly had a clue what she was talking about. We were seven, for Christ’s sake, and fashion hadn’t been a big deal at my old school.

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

But my faux pas meant my automatic exclusion from the upper echelons of second grade. Later that afternoon, when it came time to pick partners for a science project, every girl I sought out with my gaze refused to meet it except for Stacey O’Connor. She came running over, gushing, “Wanna be my partner? Since Stacey already had the project figured out and discussing her plan took five minutes of the thirty the teacher allotted, Stacey launched into getting-to-know-you talk.

It had taller buildings, the lakefront, and far friendlier kids. If you’re gonna be mean about it I shook my head so vigorously that auburn strands of hair slapped me across the face. You’re the first kid who’s been nice to me. Stacey also said, “Wow, you have cool eyes. Are they orange in the middle? Stephwnie green and brown, but they change colors sometimes. Her words melted the feeling of insecurity that had been lodged in my gut since Maggie mocked my clothes.

Maybe if I’d begged my mom for a new wardrobe and stephwnie perm, I could’ve joined Maggie Young’s elite crowd of Keds-sneakered, Gap-cardigan-wearing, boy-crazy girls with perfectly coiffed bangs. But once I aligned myself with Stacey, I was branded uncool for life and I didn’t care. Stacey was a genuinely nice person; I was relieved to have a real friend, and so was she.

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Stacey’s low position on the social totem pole at school — just above the girl who smelled like pee and tried to blame it on her balladss — stemmed from her undesirable family situation. She lived in a tiny apartment, not the prime locale for elaborate sleepovers, and all the other parents looked down on her mom. Beth had Stacey at sixteen and Stacey’s dad had been thirty.

Beth had scrimped and saved to move Stacey to the ‘burbs abllads that mythic “better life. Two years into our friendship, in fourth grade, I went with Stacey to visit him. We waited anxiously in the backseat while Beth went in to talk to him first.

Five minutes later, Beth stormed out, red-cheeked, and started the car again, announcing, “He can’t pay child support, he can’t see his kid. Beth played the radio as loud subrubia it could go, Led Zeppelin making the windows rattle, Stacey kuwhnert I learning to find solace in a blaring rock song.

My friendship with Stacey was never syephanie to change. It was supposed to stay frozen in time like the photograph on the mantel in my living room: It would be okay if our hair and clothes changed with the times, but we were supposed to be standing side by side with wacky smiles on our faces until the day we died. A week after eighth grade graduation, Beth broke the news that she and Stacey were moving to the neighboring town — and different school district — of Berwyn.

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She tried to butter us up first, ordering pizza for dinner. I can’t afford Od Park rent anymore. She scowled, one hand on her hip, the other palm outstretched, sliding back and forth between us. Wanna see if I can get you dishwashing positions at the restaurant? Stacey screeched until she was blue in the face, calling Beth things she’d never dared, like “motherfucking bitch.


She slammed her door and blasted a Black Sabbath album. Beth shouted at her to play it louder. Stacey changed the music to Nine Inch Nails, but Beth said she could turn that up, too.

After fifty similar arguments, Stacey didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

: Ballads of Suburbia (): Stephanie Kuehnert: Books

But I kept scheming to keep us from being separated. I even tried to convince my parents that we should move to Berwyn, too.

I accosted them in the kitchen one night while Mom prepared dinner and Dad thumbed through the files in his briefcase. I contended that we could find a cheaper house in Berwyn and the taxes would be lower. Feeling desperate, I also asserted, “Berwyn has the car spindle that was in Wayne’s World.

Oak Park doesn’t have cool public art like that. And we’re staying in Oak Park for the schools. That’s why I work so hard to pay those high taxes. Maybe she could live with us or at least use our address — ” Dad cut me off with his patented “Absolutely not! Mom chased me upstairs to my bedroom, where I threw myself on my bed, shouting, “Dad’s so unfair! He didn’t even listen to me. He doesn’t care about anything but his stupid job and he doesn’t understand Mom gently stroked my hair.

I turned my head to look at her. She brushed away the ginger strands that clung to my damp cheeks before explaining, “My best friend’s parents sent her to an all-girls Catholic high school.

I begged my parents to send me, too, even though we couldn’t afford it.

Will you talk to Dad? Mom smiled in that patronizing parental way. We hung out after school almost every day. That’s what you and Stacey’ll do. She’ll only be a couple miles away. And you’ll meet new friends like I did. Mom tried to hug me, but I flopped over on my stomach, growling, “Get out of my room! Product details File Size: July 21, Sold by: Not Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Screen Reader: Enabled Amazon Best Sellers Rank: Ballads are the kind of songs that Kara McNaughton likes best.

In high school, Kara helped maintain the “Stories of Suburbia” notebook, which contained newspaper articles about bizarre, tragic events from suburbs all over America, and personal vignettes that Kara dubbed “ballads” written by her friends in Oak Park, just outside of Chicago. But Kara never wrote her own ballad. Before she could figure out what her song was about, she left town suddenly at the end of her junior year.