Rising pop singer Shannon Kistler never expected to see college student Kevin Derow on a Manhattan street wearing her concert shirt. But she offers gratitude in her own way, leaving her biggest fan in shock. When the two teenagers meet again six days later, Shannon slips Kevin her phone number, and the unlikely romance begins.
Soon they find they have several things in common: lonely childhoods, a passion for music, and making unpopular choices about their own lives. The public cannot take Shannon seriously as a teenaged recording artist, but she risks her sudden success by making some public mistakes after breaking into a soulless music industry with unusual ease. Meanwhile Kevin loses the respect of family, friends and coworkers over the girl he idolizes-and unwittingly blows the lid off a payola scheme devised by Shannon's record label, threatening her career and possibly his own freedom.
A Song Apart revolves around two young people from distinct backgrounds who choose to follow their hearts rather than their peers and find a greater reward at the end of their paths.
"I read this book in one sitting! It was a fast, light read, but packed with drama and growth. It's not what I'd consider 'fluffy', as there were some serious themes and moments that made this novel deeper and more complex than it may first seem. I like that there was a depth to the characters, and even though Kevin is living out sort of a 'fantasy' life, he stays grounded in reality. Sure he meets and hooks up with a rising pop star, but the novel also touches on things like 9/11, autism, family conflicts, and harsh judging. I'd even go so far as to say that bullying and intimidation were themes here, along with the difficulty of standing up to those intimidators and doing the right thing and believing in oneself." (5 stars)--Stacy Decker
"This book is a must read for music fans, but I don't think you have to be a music fan to enjoy the story. It's a clever story, very well written, and an exceptional debut novel.
"It kept me hooked from the start. I enjoyed the humour. Poor Kevin Derow seems to be the unluckiest man in the world, just being himself he attracts so much negativity. By wearing a T-shirt to support a singer he admires, he is ambushed by a sequence of different characters, random strangers, like the builders on a local construction site, a group of strangers on a train, his colleagues at the Jewish Society at university, his coworkers... the list goes on. I think the message the author is trying to get across is that when someone stands out from the crowd, it's not always a great place to be. The quote from the author at the beginning of the book, sums it up: 'Enjoy a good challenge? Try being yourself. It's tougher than you think.' It's definitely tough for the two main characters, Kevin and Shannon.
"When Kevin meets his idol, Shannon Kistler, a famous pop star, he is slowly drawn into her world, and soon they become a couple. Kevin admires Shannon because she knew what she wanted at such a young age and accomplished her dreams, while he had some aspirations for a musical career but instead started a course in accountancy, and does not really seem to be sure what he wants to do.
"The book deals with, among other things, the subjects of media intrusion, unscrupulous dealings within the press and the music industry, relationships, peer pressure, autism, and bullying. It's an entertaining book that looks at such topics as the preconceptions people have about music fans and musicians, from a different angle."--Maria Savva
"Have you ever felt like a total outsider? In A Song Apart, Jeffrey H. Baer provides readers with a glimpse inside the tough exterior of an insensitive music industry including the unpopular choices and a bit of romance. Kevin Derow is different compared to other college students. While wearing teen sensation Shannon Kistler‘s rock band shirt, Kevin finds himself in the most awkward position as she drives by and embarrasses him. Fate would have them meet again where Shannon gives Kevin her phone number. Yet, the new couple have many obstacles both personal and from those who support each of them. A Song Apart is a novel of redemption and having the 'chutzpah' to change.
"Mr. Baer has extraordinary talent with character development. In A Song Apart the reader is not weighed down with too much back story. Simultaneously, the author writes convincing characters. This made the novel’s pace enjoyable and gave a clear understanding of each character’s social, economic, religious, and family history. For example, Kevin’s membership at the Jewish Society introduces the reader to Kevin’s social circle and establishes the external conflict that he must resolve with his friends Avi, Yaakov, and Menachem. With attention to details, the author continues to use his character development as a bridge to the misinterpreted behavior of Kevin and Shannon. By comparatively displaying Shannon’s choice to stretch her body in sensual poses on the bus, the misinterpretation of her actions by paparazzi and Paul Spungen, provide the reader with much foreshadowing as to the results of the uncovered payola scheme.
"A Song Apart is written from a first-person narrative. An emotional tone is present several times in the novel as the topic of autism and Asperger syndrome become part of the topic. Particularly, I was tremendously touched as Kevin speaks with young Sam when he wrote, "'Did Shannon make me different?' I immediately thought of possibly having Asperger’s Syndrome, but I couldn’t discuss it with someone who didn’t understand his own condition. 'Oh-no, I don’t think so. People don’t make each other that way, it just happens, you know?'” This is a very emotional and powerful connection Mr. Baer has with his book. The author admittedly uses his own diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome as his muse in A Song Apart. My favorite quote in the novel is 'love doesn’t follow any rules, it just happens. And when it does, we have to be thankful because it may never ‘just happen’ again.' It is this raw natural ability and special insight that Jeffrey Baer gifts the reader that makes his novel, A Song Apart a perfect read for ages 15 to 99. A Song Apart has my highest recommendation for debuting author Jeffrey Baer. It is a crescendo to the soul for this reader."--Ginger Dawn Harman
I was born January 21, 1969 in Brooklyn, NY. My dad was stationed in Fort Huachuca, AZ after his return from Vietnam, so I was an army brat without knowing it.
My childhood was like a lot of others–difficult. I was advanced for my age, as everyone discovered when I read the Times Square message boards at age two– out loud, no less. My grandparents told me how surprised the pedestrians were; I was too engaged to notice, or else I'd pass the hat around.
Unfortunately, the other kids weren't surprised. In fact, they were downright offended and often reminded me as much. The worst of it came in junior high school, when the entire grade hated my guts without knowing why. Looking back on it, I should've thanked those kids for giving me all that attention.
I realized I could write when our seventh-grade English teacher asked us to write an essay about a famous woman. Since I loved listening to pop music, I wrote my essay about Roberta Flack, but I was out sick the day after handing it in. The next Monday a girl in my class complained “Gee, thanks, Jeff. We all really wanted to hear about Roberta Flack.” Apparently the teacher was so impressed with my essay, he read it to the class–and my classmates had yet another reason to consider me persona non grata.
My so-called “bad reputation” followed me to high school. Suffice it to say I was never so relieved in my life than graduation day.
I entered Baruch College in 1987 to study accounting, but after seven years I realized I didn’t know how to crunch numbers the way they should be crunched. I detoured into journalism for a year, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I took time off to sort out my career goals. At the same time I worked as a receivables manager for a Manhattan-based trade magazine. It was the worst job I ever had, as I coped with office politics and the nastiest, most manipulative boss I ever had. But the experience inspired The Strickland File, which I wrote between 1997 and 2003 and am revising at the moment.
After Mill Hollow I worked at a list management company called Stevens-Knox & Associates for sixteen months. After losing that job I had trouble finding steady work for fourteen years. But in April 2002 I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is high-functioning autism that affects social skills. It answered a lot of questions, particularly why I was socially inept as a child and couldn’t get jobs on my own. Now I work part-time for a security firm thanks to a supported-employment group called JobPath.
In addition to writing fiction, I compose songs using software. I enjoy old school R&B as well as 70s pop. I also sing and play guitar, bass and drums.
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