Exile, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Exile, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Fast, fun trip with teen rock band manager, star boyfriend.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers learn a bit about the music business and a working rock band.

Positive Messages

If you share your problems with your friends, they can help you work through the issues and find solutions. Do what you love. You can write your own story apart from your family history.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A character's uncle is a kind father figure who gives good advice and watches over his nephew and friends. A character's single mom is understanding and supportive and works hard to provide a happy, stable home for her son. 


A character imagines punching another character in the face.


Descriptions of kissing and French-kissing. A boy asks to feel up a girl in return for a favor.


"F--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "crap," "damn," "turd," "balls," "Jesus."


Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Les Paul, Ibanez, J. Crew, Bloomingdale's, Cool Ranch Doritos, Bionicles, Seventeen magazine.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and drunk teens at a party, smell of marijuana in a practice studio, references to past substance abuse.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Exile is about a high school girl, Summer, who manages rock bands at her high school. When her previous band hits it big and leaves her behind, she sets her sights on putting together a new act featuring the talented but troubled Caleb. What follows is a story that's equal parts romance, high school drama, road trip, and family-history sleuthing. Characters skip school, lie to parents, drink, and use profanity, including, "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole."

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What's the story?

Summer attends the performing arts academy within her high school. She's torn between pursuing the future her parents want for her -- good college and high-paying job -- and her dream of working in the music industry, discovering and managing bands. After Summer's previous band gets signed to a label and dumps her, she's on the lookout for the next big thing. She's not only angry about being fired as manager, she's also heartbroken because her boyfriend, the band's leader, broke up with her. Then she meets the handsome and talented Caleb, who just blew apart his last band for unknown personal reasons. Her resolve not to get involved with another musician she's managing dissolves, and the two embark on a romantic and business partnership. When Summer learns what happened to shake Caleb's faith in himself and his future in music, she helps him deal with the discovery and works with him to put together a new band. The story weaves together their romance, band dynamics, Caleb's family history, a road trip, and high school social drama, all set against the angst-driven pulse of rock 'n' roll.

Is it any good?

EXILE is a light, fun journey into the excitement of young love and rock 'n' roll. Author Kevin Emerson realistically depicts how hard it is for a performing artist to bare his soul and share his work with the public. The book also captures the thrill of discovering music you love as a teenager. The music industry and those who run it are presented realistically, for good and bad. The story speeds along and is best when we see Caleb uncover his family history and thus learn more about himself.

The speed with which Summer and Caleb fall in love is barely believable, as are the state-of-the-art facilities in the music academy at their public school. The school is supposed to be falling apart because of funding issues, but somehow it has practice spaces, espresso machines, and professional-quality music and video-production gear. And, although it's understandable for Summer to be upset over getting dumped as manager of her former band, it's unrealistic of her to expect to be professional manager when she's only 17. But overall, the story's an enjoyable light read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about expectations for the future. What do parents want for their kids, and what do kids envision for themselves?

  • How does Exile's depiction of the way record label executives act compare with what you see in the news and in other books, in movies, or on television shows? 

  • Have you ever created anything -- art, music, a story, or a poem -- that you've shared with a large group of people? Were you happy you did it? Or, if you didn't share it, do you wish you had?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

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