Headstrong II

Fiction - New Adult
346 Pages
Reviewed on 06/03/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Headstrong II is a work in the coming-of-age, interpersonal drama, and social issues subgenres. It is best suited to the mature end of the young adult reading spectrum owing to some non-explicit scenes of a sexual nature and more developed adult themes than the first installment. Penned by L. B. Carl, this riveting sequel sees us return to Matt during a tumultuous time when enrolling in a new school in a new town tests him more than ever. Trying to reform the band, graduate high school, and deal with the scars of his past drama will all factor into this empowering coming-of-age saga.

L. B. Carl made us fall deeply for the emotionally troubled but resilient Matt in the first installment of this dynamic series. Now we’re set for even more heartbreak in another fantastic rollercoaster of a story. I enjoyed the continuing storylines from Matt’s family and past relationship goals with Taryn. Still, I liked that there were also realistic developments in how new towns and new experiences reshape and change our ideas about our future. This makes for an intense and relatable coming-of-age drama where every character is given the narrative treatment to feel whole and complete, giving new adult and young adult audiences total immersion in this intricately penned world. Overall, Headstrong II continues the series with atmosphere and quality, and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for Matt as he continues his journey.

Stephanie Chapman

L.B. Carl continues the story of Matt Jerue in Headstrong II. Matt is living with Larry Thoresen and has started his junior year at Olympic View. He plans on keeping a low profile to avoid trouble. However, his thoughts about Taryn still dominate his mind, and he holds on to the note from his hospital stay. He succeeds until Dylan, one of the school jocks, goads him. Later, Dylan and Scott corner Matt at lunch and insist that he try out for the school rock band. At the tryouts, a friendship grows. During a fraternity party, Matt runs into Garrett, who also taunts him about Taryn. The following day, Taryn shows up at the fraternity party. The dream that Matt held on to for so long comes true until Taryn tells him it was a mistake.

L.B. Carl describes the intense emotional turmoil in Matt. His prior experiences overshadow his life in school. Even when someone tries to be nice to him, he is abrasive. I enjoyed watching his maturity when he was taking care of his work and school responsibilities. Matt reveals his passion when he reunites with his former bandmates and encourages Dylan to be part of the band. The struggle to return the group’s music to its former level develops in vivid detail. Rahn and Chris try to get Matt to understand that he is to blame for Taryn avoiding him. The unpredictable turns in the story caught me off guard. Dylan’s sister Brynn shocked me. I thought she was a replacement for Taryn as her actions and snarky comments were almost identical. I recommend Headstrong II to readers who enjoy stories about characters who follow their dreams and grow on a personal level.

David Cameron

Headstrong II by L.B. Carl is the second in a three-book series. The year is 1977 and Matt has been forced to move towns, leave his girlfriend and rock band behind, and begin again. Deaf in one ear from being severely beaten, Matt has lost his interest in playing guitar and he struggles to settle into his new school. His attitude and reputation make him stand out, but on his birthday, things change when he is given a Telecaster guitar. He is tricked into taking part in auditions for a school band, and this is the catalyst for finally making new friends and turning his life around.

L.B. Carl's novel Headstrong II is set in the USA and explores the struggles of teenage life. Matt has already faced tremendous setbacks, but as he rebuilds, it is far from plain sailing. Teen issues of romance, dysfunctional family relationships, friendships, and parental expectations are covered in this young adult novel. L.B. Carl describes a world before social media, where free love was a part of the high school and student experience. The author's view of the rock scene shortly before and after the arrival of disco is vivid and accurate. The hoping-to-make-it band experience was common in the 1970s, and Carl describes the tension between the band members of Headstrong compellingly. It is not always easy to like Matt, as he is a complex character. His relationship with his past love, Taryn, is a constant thread as he faces his demons and chases his dreams. Headstrong II is an intense and well-written novel that reflects the complexities of teen life and raises many questions.