Cover image for The beat goes on
The beat goes on
Minchin, Adele.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.

Physical Description:
212 pages ; 24 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.0 10.0 77437.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



People don't want to talk about it. they're scared they might catch it....nobody realizes that there are people like emma out there who have just had a bit of bad luck from one careless mistake.From The Beat Goes OnAt fifteen shy Leyla looks up to her sixteen-year-old cousin, Emma. Beautiful, confident, and popular with boys, Emma seems to have it all. But when Emma learns that she's HIV positive after having unprotected sex just once, Leyla must be the strong one. Supporting her cousin through all the changes, even teaching music to kids in Emma's support group, Leyla promises to keep it all a secret. But when Leyla's gorgeous new boyfriend thinks condoms are optional, and Emma's health begins to decline, Leyla realizes people will never be safe unless they are aware. Will she find the courage to speak out and make people understand?

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-11. Fifteen-year-old Leyla must keep her cousin's secret: Emma is HIV positive, and only her mother and Leyla know. The secret becomes a burden, especially when Leyla must lie to her parents in order to work with Emma's support group on their special project--to teach other HIV-positive teens how to play the drums. In spite of its heavy Briticisms and a didactic tone, this is one of the better YA books about HIV. The facts of transmission and symptoms are clearly presented, as are Emma's struggles to lead a normal, healthy life. Leyla's very proper mother's holier-than-thou response and the grief Emma and her mother feel are authentic and painful. Leyla's sadness and initial unease at being physically near her cousin are also palpably genuine. Minchin educates young readers while telling a gripping story that will keep personal tragedy aficionados turning the pages to the hopeful yet realistic conclusion. --Frances Bradburn Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though British author Minchin's debut novel goes overboard on exposition, it does educate readers about the impact of HIV. When narrator Leyla's teen cousin, Emma, confides that she is HIV-positive, Leyla promises to keep her secret and stay her friend. She gets more deeply involved with other teens dealing with the disease when Emma asks her to teach drums at a music workshop offered through a support center. Emma explains what it was like to get tested, a girl in the support group worries about telling her boyfriend of her status, and Leyla says no to sex when her new boyfriend admits he doesn't have a condom. Leyla also faces prejudice and ignorance ("the risk of a normal person getting it is still extremely low" her gym teacher says in a short assembly) and intolerance (a school bully harasses her when she finds out Leyla was at the support center, bruiting it about that Leyla has AIDS, and Leyla's own mom shuns Emma and her mother). While Leyla's fierce loyalty and commitment to her beliefs-as well as her passion for drumming-make her compelling, her narration tends to state the obvious ("My mind was full of all the new people I'd met and all their different stories of how HIV affected their lives"). Readers may also be disappointed with the contrived conclusion. Although Minchin supplies plenty of good information along the way, ultimately, the novel's mission is more impressive than the narrative. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Leyla, 15, an aspiring drummer, wishes for a "really good drama" to spice up her life in the Manchester, England suburbs. She gets far more than she bargained for when her beloved cousin Emma, 16, is diagnosed with HIV, and Emma swears Leyla to uncomfortable secrecy. She begins to spend covert Saturdays by giving drumming lessons at an HIV outreach center to support Emma. When her parents find out through neighborhood gossip, they forbid her to go near "those people" again. The teen is upset but not surprised at her parents' attitudes; she is mortified at the response to her pleas for an AIDS-education program at school. Leyla's observations are thoughtful, witty, and levelheaded, and her heart and self-effacing heroism carry the book. No Pollyanna, however, she disobeys her parents, doesn't apologize for her sexuality, and soundly whoops a trash-talking classmate. The relationship between Leyla and Emma is richly drawn, with just enough uniquely British sarcasm underlying their mutual regard, love, and trust. Occasionally, the dialogue reads like the script for a public-service announcement, but only when Leyla rants about the ignorance of her parents and peers in conversation. Minchin's deft and cinematic plotting distinguishes this from a simple problem novel, though, as events and their consequences continue to build, inform, and surprise. The fast-paced plot, along with clear, sharp, and mostly unsentimental language, makes this a solid addition to the subject's heavily nonfiction canon, and an especially good starting point for reluctant readers. Leyla's believable earnestness and burgeoning activism show enough about the inescapably unsubtle subject matter to forgive Minchin her sometimes heavy-handed telling.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.