Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review - The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz

Summary: (via Goodreads) With a summer job at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley, California, teen music junkie Allie is ready for anything. She’s poised to fall in love, catch a thief, and make a mix that’ll break your heart. And when she blogs as The Vinyl Princess, Allie is the sort of mystery girl you can’t resist tuning into. Get ready for the vinyl revolution!

Review: In the novel The Vinyl Princess Yvonne Prinz recreates the life of a 16 year old vinyl record collector, Allie, who spends a lazy summer working in a small California record store (Bob & Bob's). Allie’s life is consumed by a singular passion: vinyl records. She lives for the crackle produced by the turntable’s needle as it dances its way to the right place, and nothing—not her mother’s miserable online dating fiasco, her best friend’s cheating boyfriend, or the thieving ways of her crush—can distract her from this obsession, which she actively rants about in a blog entitled thevinylprincess.

The unfortunate part of Al’s situation is that she was born about half a century late. Vinyl is almost extinct and the mp3-addicted, iPod listening generation that she belongs to could care less about album track arrangements or cover art. Her outdated music interest relegates her to a small group of oddballs that either work or shop at Bob & Bob’s. As mundane as it sounds working retail in a musty, hole-in-the-wall record store, Allie’s narrative manage to bring out its charms. She an eloquent observer that can give a romantic feel to everything and everyone around her, from the misanthropic co-worker lurking in the store’s stack collection, to the petty and homeless cross-dressers that practically live on the store’s premises, to the mom-and-pop eateries of Telegraph Avenue where she eats lunch.

Even those of us who could never understand the charms of clunky vinyl records can appreciate Allie’s music addiction as she includes all sort of interesting music-related tidbits throughout her narrative. After throwing us a plethora of music information and tracks to listen to, Prinz delivers a music-pinnacle of sorts in the form of a mixtape (ahem, “the mating call of the romantically challenged”) that Allie receives from Zach, a fellow vinyl purist. This is perhaps the most interactive part of the book and should the reader be invested in the story enough—like I was—they’ll assuredly listen to all the tracks listed (in their correct order) to discover Zach’s message.

The story’s actual pinnacle isn’t very dramatic. Allie was never created with some moral, personal or familial issue to resolve but is a rather content character trying to amicably deal with the issues stirred up by those around her. In a rather false-autobiography type of way, Allie was probably conceived to simulate the author, who herself works at a record store and is the active brain behind the thevinylprincess blog (which does exists in real-life and is filled with all kinds of purchasing suggestions for vinyl enthusiasts).

I liked this book; it made me happy to know that passions can bring such contentment to life, even to a teenager’s life.

Lit Snit Verdict: A

PS-Click here to listen to one of the songs Prinz raves about in her book.


  1. Gosh I miss mixtapes (yeah I guess in high school you could define me romantically challenged).
    This sounds like a cute and fun read, any great song in the playlist?

  2. Making mixtape is an art form! I love them, doesn't everyone?
    Zach's mixtape is pretty cool. In Al's own words "Zach's mixtape brings me to my knees...If i'd never met Zach before and i was handed the mix and told to listen to it, I would probably propose marriage, sight unseen, or i'd at least offer to be his girlfriend."
    ...so, yeah!
    I'm also adding one of the songs mentioned in the book to my review. This song does a good job at representing the feel of the book (but it is not part of Zach's mixtape selections). It's a song that's always been a personal favorite.