Frankie, Haruna (a British Asian woman) and Aimee are aged seventeen. They form a punk band called Seven. Frankie is the leader. Frankie has an ulterior motive in forming the band. She is keen to date an enigmatic older boy named Doc. She hopes that leading the band will impress Doc.
Frankie has two attributes that make launching the band tricky. First, she is utterly lazy. The idea of working hard to learn the guitar – or anything else – is anathema to her. Second, she is a compulsive liar. When the band wants to get access to a particular recording studio, Frankie will claim they have already been admitted – which is far from the truth.
Nevertheless as the three players become more proficient, so Seven grows in importance to all of them. Complexity arises around Haruna. She is a diligent student. Her mother is living with a man who is not her father. The problems that confront Haruna at home mean that her role as drummer in the band becomes intensely important to her. Aimee is gay. But she is struggling to achieve her own identity.
Will the band succeed? What might success or failure mean to the trio? The most powerful element in this book is the narrative around Haruna. Her story is convincing and engrossing. The way she tries to strike a balance between her problems at home and her musical career will capture the attention of any reader. However the weakest point of the novel centres upon Frankie herself. Frankie is lazy, self-centred and demanding of unearned benefit. Her destructive behaviour is more or less tolerated by indulgent parents. The protagonist of a novel of course need not be a paragon of virtue. Plenty of successful novels have involved flawed protagonists. But the central character must have enough qualities to appeal to the reader – a test which Frankie signally fails.