Book Review: How The Mistakes Were Made

How the Mistakes Were MadeHow the Mistakes Were Made by Tyler McMahon

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Laura Loss was in her brother’s punk rock band, Second Class Citizens (SCC), in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the band and they broke up. It’s now the early 1990s and Laura is living in Seattle working as a barista in a coffee shop and playing bass in a little band called Cooler Heads. She meets Nathan and Sean, two young aspiring musicians who live in Montana, at a Cooler Heads show. They are huge fans of SCC and Laura offers to help them if they ever find themselves in Seattle. Though Laura never dreams that they will actually take her up on her offer, sure enough they show up on her doorstep a few months later.

Sean turns out to be a gifted guitarist and Nathan is a brilliant songwriter. Laura agrees to play drums with them for their first show as The Mistakes, which turns out to be a huge success. One thing leads to another and before they can catch their breath, The Mistakes are one of the biggest bands the Seattle grunge scene has ever produced. When the band implodes, the world blames Laura. She tells her side of the story in How the Mistakes Were Made.

This book captured the feeling of the early 90s grunge movement perfectly. As someone who lived through that time while working at an alternative record store, it made me feel very nostalgic for those days. This is definitely not a feel good story. The three main characters are all flawed in some pretty major ways. At the same time, they are relatable and I found myself sympathizing with them even as they made some terrible choices. I could not put this book down – I was desperate to find out what exactly happened to cause the band’s breakup. I highly recommend this book.

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(I received this book courtesy of the publisher and the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.)