High school students Jordan and Max couldn’t be more different. Jordan writes poetry and hangs out with his two female best friends while Max chills with the jocks on the baseball team. When Max stumbles into a summer job helping out at Jordan’s late father’s food truck, the boys are awkward coworkers at first and the truck is looking like it’s a miserable failure. Max isn’t getting paid and Jordan isn’t earning the money he needs to help his mother pay the mortgage. But once the boys redesign the truck and its menu (nevermind some bumpy false starts), their unique spicy chicken and frozen lemonade recipes start attracting customers. As sales begin to boom and the hot Phoenix summer blazes around them, the two boys begin to bond and share their vulnerabilities: Jordan is scared by his mother’s mental illness, and Max is dealing with the trauma of being assaulted by an older boy at a party. Before long, they’ve moved from being friendly coworkers to being boyfriends. But will their feelings for each other be enough to sustain them as things begin to turn sour?
Like all of Konigsberg’s previous young adult books, The Music of What Happens isn’t afraid to tackle complex personal and social issues like race and gender, but thankfully and Max and Jordan’s sexual orientations are portrayed as completely normal. This is an utterly contemporary take on the age-old summer love story.