“Why can’t music be magic? Aren’t spells just words you repeat? And what are songs? Lyrics that play over and over again. The words are like a formula.”
The classic hiss of a vinyl record collides with magic in this fun coming-of-age story. We first meet Meche in 2009 as she travels back to her hometown of Mexico City to attend her father’s funeral. Traveling back to her hometown forces her to confront her memories of the last time she was in Mexico City at the age of 15. Chapters flip from present-day 2009 to her teen years in 1988 as present-day Meche grapples with the truth she wants to leave in the past. In high school, Meche (obsessed with the vinyl records her father owns) and her friends joke about casting spells to magically attain the seemingly unattainable: money, popularity, and dates to the school dance. To their surprise, casting spells with vinyl records works for them but not without some surprising consequences.
While touching on some serious topics (bullying, divorce, etc) this novel never takes itself too seriously and instead focuses on the magic of music, of feeling everything so deeply when one is young, and the power of relationships. The heart of this novel is coming to terms with one’s adolescence: the nostalgia, the cringe-y moments, the regrets, and the tight bonds of friendship. The fully developed characters and dialogue are refreshing, and I like how 1980s pop culture is sprinkled throughout the story.
If you’re like me and enjoy books that allow you to suspend your sense of reality while reading them, then you should definitely check out Signal to Noise. Similar titles involving magic and music: Radio Iris, Labyrinth Lost