Friday, May 6, 2011

Guitar Boy by MJ Auch

I randomly found this book on the shelves of my public library, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Fourteen-year-old Travis' life in the backwoods near the Adirondack Mountains has taken a tough turn. His mother has brain damage from a car accident and is currently in a nursing home. Travis' father has given up hope for his mother's recovery.
His younger siblings don't even recognize her and just want their mommy back. The father feels the emotional pressure and mentally loses it one day, kicking Travis out of the house and telling him to never come back. Travis has a small bag of supplies and his great-great-great grandfather's guitar as he sets out on foot, looking for somewhere to live. The guitar gets stolen, but Travis finds some help and shelter from three men whose lives surround music and a large guitar festival. Travis must deal with his feelings about his angry father and his seriously injured mother. Will he ever be able to return home? Can his mother be helped? He can only dream about getting his guitar back.

First off, this is one of those books that will not appeal to everyone. The conflicts are mostly emotional, and there is not much action involved. Music, especially the guitar, is a main topic of the plot. I thought the author did a nice job of describing Travis' problems while mixing in positive moments, some humor, and giving hope. Clarence is a great character and helps mentor Travis throughout the story. There aren't many people in the world who would go as far as Clarence did to help a runaway stranger. Travis must learn to deal with his own anger and gets advice from Snow White during a dream. He meets good and bad people in the world, and luckily the good win out in the end.

Lexile level from 750