Music and Maturity


The teenage experience seems to be pretty universally filled with hormonal desire and a yearning to find one’s path in life. In Pipeliner by Shawn Hartje, the teenage experience is colored by the music and culture of the early 1990s.

Navigating the thin line between high school and adult life as his parents try to intervene, seventeen year old Jason is eager to leave behind his educational trappings in Idaho in favor of making money and pursuing a music career in the pacific northwest, the musical hot spot of the 90s. After meeting an attention-capturing girl at a bonfire, Jason barely pays attention to finishing his junior year and instead focuses his efforts toward becoming part of the crew laying pipes for oil lines as a means to earn some money to facilitate his dreams of playing guitar in Seattle or Portland.

The writing easily captured the juvenile attitude of Jason and his preoccupation with sex. As a coming of age story it would be reasonable to expect some character growth, but the growth that Jason demonstrates is minimal, if any, which was frustrating as static characters are often rather uninteresting. The narration style was a bit odd as the story was focused on Jason’s perspective, but it had areas where it slipped into the perspective of Jason’s parents Leah and Curtis, which didn’t seem to quite fit with the rest of the narrative. While some may feel that Seattle and Portland may be interchangeable as they offer a similar vibe, I found it strange how these cities were consistently referred to as one entity, Portland and Seattle, instead of Portland or Seattle, because they are discrete entities.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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