Struts and Frets – Jon Skovron

‘Our band was called Tragedy of Reason. Or Tragedy of Wisdom. We hadn’t decided yet. I liked “Reason” because it said how much it sucked to be the only thoughtful person in a crazy world. But our frontman, Joe, liked “Wisdom” because, he said: 
“It just sounds cooler!”’
Sammy is a musician, he doesn’t just play guitar, it is engrained into him. His band sucks a bit but hes determined to make them awesome to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands. But with a singer who cant remember the lyrics and a bassist who switches songs partway through one Sammy has his work cut out to make this band the best. Throw in a therapist mum, whose favourite patient is her own son, new feelings for his best friend and a granddad who seems to believe there’s someone after him; Sammy’s life is not simple. What more could go wrong before the contest and what can Sammy do to fix everything.

So, I believed I would love this book before I even picked it up. I LOVE music, it makes sense to me, though I must stress that it is listening, not playing, that I love! As soon as I realised this book was about music I thought I would love it so, so much… and I’m so happy to say I was not disappointed!
First of all I have to comment on the chapter titles. When I opened the book the first page I saw was the contents, which is quite unusual for a YA fiction book. Nevertheless I glanced over the contents page and thought “those are song titles!” I didn’t know all of the songs but I knew, or recognised, a hell of a lot of them. It made me very excited that “Everything in its Right Place” was one of the chapters as I love that song and Radiohead! I was even more excited when I started reading and found that the chapter titles actually reflected the chapters. They made sense, they hadn’t just been put there for show, I loved that!
Anyway. The story. It’s a good one… that’s not telling you much is it? It’s a great one to be honest. Sammy has a lot of the same problems as many teenage boys and that is what I loved the most; it’s a real story. I could see so many of my college friends in Sammy, so many boys who dreamt big, (and unfortunately so many that didn’t get there!) and it really hit a cord with me (no pun intended!). The story was nothing too special to be honest, it’s a coming of age tale involving love, friendship and music, but that’s why it’s so good! I was reading te book and I couldn’t help but think what a great movie it would make, and Im not talking Hollywood blockbuster, I’m talking Napoleon Dynamite style teen classic! I would pay good money to see that movie!
The characters were amazing.  I could see people I knew in this book, Sammy was incredible and so strong but so unsure of himself, much like a normal 16/7 year old boy is! Jen5 was even better, I loved her… I saw parts of myself in her but the only difference being I can’t paint or draw to save my life! I thought she was really unique and when I pictured her I saw a normal looking, normal sized girl who was tough as nails but also slightly worried. I loved the sound of her paisley eyes too, that was awesome!
The band members and Sammy’s friends were also really cool characters. I liked that there was never a point when you didn’t believe they were real. They were just normal people, nothing extra special, nothing crazy (unless you count Joes outbursts!) and I would have loved to chill out with them!
Finally I come to the adults in this book. Never before have I laughed so much at things adults say or do… mainly because it I had sex talks with my mum that went along the same lines as Sammy’s I would have begged for a hole to swallow me up, but cos it was happening to someone else I could just laugh! Jens parents were interesting, well her dad was! I wanted to slap her mum and it really bugged me with what she was like, just be happy for your daughter silly bitch! Then Gramps… that was so sad, but so funny and so realistic. I can’t imagine what it would be like to witness someone go through what Gramps was going through. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s obvious that in some cases of old age people can start changing quite dramatically. It was so sad to see Gramps in certain situations, but so sweet in others. He seemed so normal but then would change within seconds, and it was tough to see that on paper so seeing it first-hand must be even worse.
The story was so difficult, so real and so moving that I loved how humour was evident in the book. It made everything seem possible to overcome. It was a way of dealing with the events of the book and it worked so well. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud in various places throughout this book, which caused many strange looks from my partner whilst I was reading, so I will warn you if you read this book in public, expect to be stared at!
The book has hit spots that very few books do, music and books are two of my loves and to see them mixed together always makes me happy but with this one, it was the writing style and the humour that added to my enjoyment! I can’t wait to read Skovron’s other book to see how they match up but even if they aren’t as god as Struts and Frets, I think he’s got a new fan! I urge anyone and everyone to read this book, especially if you love music!
Struts and Frets was originally published in 2009, it was recently republished by Abrams for release on September 1st. Thank you so much to the publisher for supplying me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.


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