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Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Posted by Caitie F on January 18, 2014

Title: Scar Boysscar
Author: Len Vlahos
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: Jan 21, 2014
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock ‘n’ roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world…even if you carry scars inside and out.

In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay–help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores–Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.

The first defining moment: the day the neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm when he was 8 years old, and the tree was struck and caught fire. Harry was badly burned and has had to live with the physical and emotional scars, reactions from strangers, bullying, and loneliness that instantly became his everyday reality.

The second defining moment: the day in 8th grade when the handsome, charismatic Johnny rescued him from the bullies and then made the startling suggestion that they start a band together. Harry discovered that playing music transported him out of his nightmare of a world, and he finally had something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Harry’s description of his life in his essay is both humorous and heart-wrenching. He had a steeper road to climb than the average kid, but he ends up learning something about personal power, friendship, first love, and how to fit in the world. While he’s looking back at the moments that have shaped his life, most of this story takes place while Harry is in high school and the summer after he graduates.

Review:

If you are looking for young adult/new adult realistic fiction set in the past, this is a book for you. It is right on the edge of the young adult/new adult line. Most of the book takes place during the summer between high school and college/the rest of life. They are dealing with figuring out the rest of their lives and being in an awesome punk band.It is truly a coming of age novel.

There is so much to like in this book. As a huge fan of music, that was one of my favorite aspects – all of the music references and seeing what it was like on the inside of the band and how ugly it could get. I also loved that the chapters titles were songs that gave a hint about what would happen. I spent some time on Youtube and iTunes when i was done.

I also thought the style of the book was interesting. It was written as a college essay (probably the longest one ever), but it only referred to the admission counselors a couple times. It took me out a little when it happened, but in a good way because it reminded me that this is how Harry wants to represent himself. It says more about who Harry is than his actions and adds another layer to the book.

My only complaint is that some of the secondary characters felt a little flat, especially the female character. It was because the characters were only described how Harry saw them, but there could have been some depth added.

Overall, it is a good read with a different story and voice than what it out there. I am a big music fan so having that,a road trip, and a character that had visible scars that changed how he saw himself made me pretty sure I would like it before I even started.

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