I love music-themed books, especially when they talk a lot about music – this one does it very well.

struts & frets.jpgStruts & Frets
by Jon Skovron

Amulet Books
ISBN: 978 0 8109 4174 8

This book is a few years old now (2009), but I liked it so much I wanted to share – and that only means that now you can get it more cheaply in paperback!

Sammy is a musician at heart – he writes songs, saved for a year to buy his beloved guitar, and is trying hard to make his band work, despite the evidence. His grandfather is the one who truly understands, having been a musician himself, but he is slipping away into dementia, one of the situations that comes to a head in the course of the book.

The band is another thing, too – it’s not really working, no matter how much he wants it to. There are some hard struggles to make it a go, nonetheless, at the same time that Sammy starts to try to deal with the stage fright that keeps him from singing his own material. He’s a very appealing character, Sammy is, and you are definitely rooting for him all the way through this.

Which also makes you want him and his best friend to make a go of it as a couple once his friends give him the little push he needs to see that they really ought to be together. That, and you want his mom to stop resisting the idea of him being a musician, having seen the toll it took on her own parents, because music is so much a part of Sammy.

I love the descriptions of what it is like to play, how it opens something in him, and how songs move from inside him without his always knowing where they are going. I love Sammy’s love for music, and how hard he tries for something that is important to him. My only complaint about this book, which was an easy read and full of engaging characters, is the musical references. Sammy is a teenager – a current teenager – and yet the music he loves most is all fifteen to twenty years old. I quite simply don’t buy that, and think the author is both dating and limiting himself. Digging harder to find current references (there were, I think, only two that are recent) would have made me believe the music more and respected that part of the character-building more. Yes, maybe he is trying to educate his teen readers in great older stuff – but it didn’t have to be the stuff that Sammy ate, slept, and breathed. Otherwise? GREAT read.

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