Title: The Songbook Of Benny Lament
Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: March 16th 2021
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: February 19th 2021
“If you want people to change, you have to show them what it looks like.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
It’s no secret that Amy Harmon is one of my absolute favorite authors, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Songbook Of Benny Lament ever since I first heard about it. I already knew this was going to happen, but I ended up being completely bowled over by this story! Don’t expect the following rambles to make much sense, as I’m now officially a fangirling blubbering mess. There is no way you can make me pick a favorite between her books, but what I can say is that The Songbook Of Benny Lament is among her best! Absolutely stunning and breathtakingly good.
I loved every single moment with this book and I literally couldn’t stop reading until I reached that final page and discovered how Benny and Esther’s story ended. From the moment I started reading, I was transported back to the 1960s. The historical setting is developed splendidly and thoroughly, from the locations to the characters and the historical background. Part of the cast actually existed or are based on real persons, which gives the story more authenticity. Directly related to this is the race element including themes such as racial segregation, discrimination and the abuse towards interracial couples in a very turbulent time in history. Think peaceful protests, think Martin Luther King, and imagine the main characters showing the world what change looks like… I personally thought that this element was rendered in a very powerful way.
Music plays of course a key role in The Songbook Of Benny Lament. It’s the driving force behind the characters as well as the story, and definitely one of the things that stood out for me. I don’t like making comparisons to other books, but if you enjoyed Daisy Jones & The Six, you will love Benny and Ether’s story! Benny is a pianist and songwriter, Esther a singer, and the rest of the Minefield band is never far away. You will get to see them writing songs, performing, using music to find a voice and spread a message… And you will also get to see the recording side of it all. I imagine this would make for an absolutely fantastic audiobook with the right cast!
The story is told from Benny’s POV in 1960, interspersed with parts of a 1969 radio interview on The Barry Gray Show where Benny looks back at that time in his life. The radio interview definitely added a little something extra to the story and made it more dynamic; once again I imagine this working really well on audio too. I also liked that despite the fact that the story is told through Benny’s eyes, Esther’s voice really shines through as well. It’s in their bantering, their music, their growing relationship and the things happening to them… And together they form the perfect harmony. Oh yes, I absolutely loved both of their characters, and the cast in general for that matter. Their development is thorough, heartfelt, realistic and they really came alive for me… And they are without doubt part of the reason this story has such an impact.
The Songbook Of Benny Lament also offers a range of further elements, including family and family secrets, a mafia angle and how it feels like having to fight for every single step while people try to stop you from succeeding. As a result, The Songbook Of Benny Lament offers a rich and multi-faced historical romance story that will manage to win over your heart in record time. Oh yes, Amy Harmon has done it again and delivered us another mindblowingly good story that will stay with me for a long long time. A new all time favorite that I already know will appear on my list of 2021 top favorites!