Book Review: Just a Girl by Ellie Cahill

I’m in awe of writers who seem to naturally be able to infuse their stories with emotion that manages to get to all my feels without going full on cheesy.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
After being kicked out of her band, a young singer goes home to figure out what to do with her life and gets caught up in a relationship with another musician. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Breaking Up the Band
Presley is blindsided when her band kicks her out, one of the members being the guy she’s had an on and off again relationship with. Even though they’ve had rocky times, she didn’t think he’d be so cold as to actually kick her out, especially when it’s her vocals that give the band their popularity. In an effort to try to figure out what to do next, she moves back home with her parents to work at their music shop.

What Can Go Wrong?
Paul gives guitar lessons at the music shop, and he and Presley have an instant connection. It’s not long before Paul brings her into his circle of friends…who also happen to be members of his band. When their lead singer can’t make it for a big show, Presley steps in, and suddenly, the band gets a taste of stardom. Unfortunately, that brings about a whole other set of issues, including Presley’s fear of dating someone in the same band. Conflict abounds.

Feeling the Groove
This story took me all over the place emotionally. First, I loved Presley’s parents. They’re open-minded, hippie-ish former musicians who know a bunch of famous artists and hold invitation-only jam and song sessions at their shop. Those were actually some of my favorite scenes, and though they weren’t numerous, there was a lot of emotion and heart there.

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Come Together
I loved the relationship between Presley and Paul, and I was heartbroken when things started going sour between them. I don’t normally get what I would consider “heartbroken,” but man, I felt it in this one. Presley feels like she has to pull away from him to be respected in the band, but even though she’s trying to make things better, she does the exact opposite.

Under Pressure
Paul also has some issues. He has severe stage fright, something he manages to control, but just barely, handling panic attacks with marijuana and eventually harder medications. Though it’s not blatant, there’s a minor subplot that deals with a possible med addiction that took things to a darker place.

The Romance Factor
The conflict killed me, but at the same time it made the romance so much sweeter. Presley helps Paul stay grounded, so even though he still has panic attacks, they get better with her there. He’s sweet and supportive of her, and even when she’s the one hurting him (*sob*), she’s also his biggest supporter. 5/5

The Steam Factor
Paul and Presley get their groove on, but what we see is pretty tame. Props the all the times Presley’s mom encouraged her to get laid, because Presley’s discomfort was hilarious! 3/5

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Final Thoughts
I came away from this book feeling wrung out but also warm and fuzzy. The characters were quirky, even if it wasn’t always good quirks, and even the minor characters gave the story such flavor that it made for a really entertaining read that I finished in one sitting because I didn’t want to stop.

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