Nestled in the Appalachian foothills, Glendary College is the epitome of a small-town college. Calm and studious on the surface, the mixture of jocks, religious fanatics, and hippies creates a powder keg just waiting to explode. The igniting spark comes in the form of the Sunburst, a homegrown rock-and-roll band whose members go out of their way to break campus rules. Finally, at a late-night concert, they go too far, and the band members are expelled. It’s been two years since the band’s departure, and the Sunburst has made it big in New York City. Due to the Sunburst's phenomenal success, the college students rally to hear them play again. Soon a groundswell builds to woo the musicians back to campus to perform at Glendary’s homecoming dance. Imogene plans to write her senior honors thesis on the Sunburst as a social phenomenon. Sara, the bandleader’s sister, struggles to keep the musicians together while recovering from a broken affair—with one of the band members. And their roommate Emily, a drama major who is secretly dating her married faculty advisor, is determined to reveal all in a video chronicling the homecoming weekend. But this isn’t any average homecoming. This is a rock star’s homecoming—and the college is about to ignite once again.
Imogene perked up. She heard herself say, “I wonder if the Sunburst will ever come back to Glendary.”
“Again with the Sunburst,” said Betty. “You’re so obsessed with Jake Murphy and his crew, I’m surprised you haven’t left college to be one of his groupies.”
“No, thanks. That’s not the lifestyle I’m looking for,” said Imogene. “It’s just that some of Jake’s songs really speak to me. They’ve pulled me through some tough times.”
Betty and Shelley groaned. Imogene didn’t know if they thought she exaggerated the band’s importance or her own struggles.
“The Sunburst has affected us all in various ways,”insisted Imogene,“whether we realize it or not.”
“Oh, sure,” said Betty. “We all remember that critique you wrote of their latest album in the 'Campus News' last spring. You treated the lyrics like holy scripture.”
“Plus, you overlooked the dark side,” said Shelley. “Your fellow intellectuals could’ve told you, not all the fire imagery in 'Glowing Strings' is metaphorical.”
“They practically advocated blowing up the administration building while they were still here,” said Betty.
The Rock Star’s Homecoming is even better than Linda Gould’s first book, Secretarial Wars. Ms. Gould is a highly competent and literary author whose slice-of-life tales develop from the minds of her lively, swirling characters. Most of the action in The Rock Star’s Homecoming takes place on a quiet, small-town campus where the local rock hero, who now runs a successful New York recording studio, is scheduled to wield his axe at the Homecoming Dance before a horde of nostalgic fans. The storyline is sort of a Bye Bye Birdie meets Steven Tyler. The reader follows a group of girls who live in Clemens Dorm, one of whom is the little sister of the infamous guitar player, as they act out their collegiate, romantic jealousies and fantasies. Ms. Gould’s storytelling abilities are exceptional. I felt like a fly on the wall in a girl’s dorm, just as the author intended.