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Guitar Boy

From Booklist

After suffering brain trauma from an accident on an Adirondack road, Travis Tacey’s mom loses her ability to speak, and life at home grows steadily tenser until Travis’ dad throws his 13-year-old son out the door. Scared and hungry, Travis tries to make a living singing with his mom’s old guitar, but then even that small comfort gets stolen. Miraculously, Travis finds a job with a gifted guitar maker who shares Travis’ love of music, which helps him begin to find his way. The story gets off to a slow start with sketchy, unconvincing development of Travis’ father and older sister, but Auch’s novel takes off when Travis begins his solo journey. Naïve, angry, grieving, and determined Travis is wholly believable. The inclusion of the luthier and his kindly crony allows Auch to provide intriguing information about the making and playing of guitars. Budding musicians will be fascinated by the details, but all readers will find their heartstrings plucked by this story that demonstrates the healing impact of music on a wounded family. Grades 5-8. --Lynn Rutan