How Do You Roo?

A Survivor’s Pocket Guide to Bonnaroo

By Jillian Locke

pulsebooks-how-do-you-roo-copyAn average of 100,000 fans swarm the 700 acres of farm land in Manchester, TN each year for what has become one of the most diverse music festivals since Lollapalooza; Bonnaroo has earned the title of “Best Festival” and “One of the Top 50 Moments to Change Rock and Roll” from Rolling Stone, and since its inception in 2002 has swelled into a pulsating fest of good people, good vibes, and stellar bands.

An avid “‘‘rooer,” Tara L. Groth has divided How Do You Roo? A Survivor’s Pocket Guide to Bonnaroo into four sections: “The Roo,” “The Rooers,” Rooing It Up,” and lastly, “Roo Out.” She makes sure to touch on all the essentials, like the best places to wash up, the best food offerings, dealing with traffic, using/abusing drugs and alcohol at the fest, how camping at Bonnaroo is NOT like your typical camping trip, the dangers of inadequate shade, and the importance of hydration. Essential gear is listed throughout the guide: sunscreen (the application and RE-application of), flashlights, extra shoes, ponchos (umbrellas obstruct sightlines and thus are not allowed), tarps for ample shade and protection from the sun’s damaging rays, and rope to tie everything in your campsite down so that you’re not victimized by small dust tornadoes.

Groth also promotes some of the merchandise that veteran rooers have created to help you tote your valuables around, like wallet wristbands (, the European Bandee’s (, WTFJeans (, a company based out of France that creates pants with pockets tailored to carrying around your hi-tech devices like USB sticks, phones, iPod’s and the like, and many more Bonnaroo-inspired artisans.

How Do You Roo packs 97 pages full of Bonnaroo details, advice, memories and anecdotes, and most importantly, the music that make this now legendary festival the musical Mecca it has grown to be. Check out this year’s line-up at and pick up this essential guide to enjoying, surviving and thriving at the fest at!

This just in! As we headed to press, Tara let us know that How Do You Roo just made it to #3 on‘s Top 100 Books in Travel! Come meet and chat with Tara in person (she’ss be discussing tips on attending Bonnaroo, camping advice, and other summer camping music festivals) on May 3 at 8pm at the Clear Conscience Cafe, 581 Mass Ave. in Cambridge. Everyone who brings/buys a copy of How Do You Roo will receive a free cup of organic, shade-grown coffee. RSVPs at

Sweet Valley Confidential

By Annette Trossello

final-cover1-copyMany of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s devoured Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High like teens today devour the Twilight series.

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield were 16-year-old identical twins growing up in the idyllic town of Sweet Valley, California. We read as they dealt with typical teen problems: body image issues, school troubles, and dating disasters. Then there were the more unbelievable plot lines: amnesia and personality changes, kidnappings, and evil Wakefield-twin look-alikes.

The series spawned several spinoffs including Sweet Valley Kids and Sweet Valley University. Then this past March came the book that Sweet Valley fans had been anticipating for ages: Sweet Valley Confidential. Finally, we get to see the Wakefield twins all grown up at age 27.

This book is the literary equivalent of cotton candy. You don’t eat cotton candy because it’s good for you or satisfying, you eat it because it tastes good ~ and then you feel sick and guilty afterwards. The same goes for Sweet Valley Confidential; you don’t read it looking for a deeper meaning, you read it as mindless entertainment.

Sweet Valley Confidential is awkwardly written; it is told from several points of view, mostly alternating between Jessica’s and Elizabeth’s. Since we haven’t read about these characters since freshman year of college, there is a lot of missing back-story. Many of the details are told through flashback, which makes for choppy chapters.

The main plot is that Elizabeth has run away to New York after finding out that Todd Wilkins, her long-time boyfriend, had an on-again/off-again affair with Jessica. The Elizabeth-Todd-Jessica triangle is something we’ve seen before, and it would have been more interesting to see them in a new situation.

Sweet Valley Confidential is also guilty of doing a lot of “telling;” instead of letting us learn about the characters through their dialogue and interactions with others, the characters come right out and “tell” us who they are and what drives them. There are interesting dynamics at play in the conflict between the twins, but it would have been better if the story had been allowed to unfold more naturally.

Still, it’s a fun read with some great scenes, and if you were a fan of Sweet Valley back in the day, it’s worth the read just to see whether where Francine Pascal has taken the characters jives with your vision of where they’d be and what their lives would be like now.