Book Reviews

Review: Battle of the Bands edited by Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith

What I loved throughout Battle of the Bands was how cohesive it felt. While it’s a short story collection, the entire thing felt almost like reading one seamless narrative. The characters intertwine, the bands make cameos, and the night progresses with the anthology. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


A daughter of rock ’n’ roll royalty has a secret crush. A lonely ticket taker worries about his sister. An almost-famous songwriter nurses old wounds. A stage manager tires of being behind the scenes. A singer-songwriter struggles to untangle her feelings for her best friend and his girlfriend. In this live-out-loud anthology, the disparate protagonists of sixteen stories are thrown together for one unforgettable event: their high school’s battle of the bands. Told in a harmonic blend of first- and third-person narrative voices, roughly chronological short stories offer a kaleidoscopic view of the same transformative night. Featuring an entry from Justin Courtney Pierre, lead vocalist of Motion City Soundtrack, Battle of the Bands is a celebration of youth, music, and meeting the challenges of life head-on.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Battle of the Bands gathers together a list of truly stellar authors. If a high school competition wouldn’t have made me blink twice, the author list would have. I loved the concept of the anthology before I even began, but having read it I’m even more in love. Everything about this anthology feels interwoven and connected. The stories bring context to each other and the world, adding new touches and echoing old memories. I am so impressed at the talent of the writers and editors to realize this project.

The authors are able to capture this turbulent moment. The ways that these teens are on the brink of going to college in this major transitional period. Both the feelings of fear and doubt as they see their future, but also the joy and ambition of wanting to make this one night count. It’s an almost electric feeling to think that in one night, your entire world could change. Each story brings something new and exciting to this cohesive story.


Battle of the Bands examines the ways music can bring people together and illuminate truths about us. It’s the making of a moment. That coming together of people and circumstances – all the change that can happen in one night. For anyone who feels nostalgic about battle of the band competitions, or are just looking for a story with heart and music, this one’s for you!

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

Find Battle of the Bands on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What band would you want to contribute a story to an anthology?

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