I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos
Narrator: Lincoln Hoppe
Length: 6 Hours 22 Minutes
Published by Egmont USA on 2014-01-21
Genres: Adolescence, Friendship, Music, Performing Arts, Social Issues, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
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.
Why Did I Listen To This Book?
Initially I was interested in the audiobook of The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos because the narrator is one of my favorites, Lincoln Hoppe, who narrated one of my top 5 favorite audios, Okay For Now. Also? It was super short. I mean, when the book was up for grabs on Edelweiss or Netgalley, I glanced at it, but never downloaded it because it didn’t seem like my kind of thing. Funny how a familiar narrator can change the mind so quickly and easily. Anyways, once I actually read the legit summary, I knew that I needed to actually make this book a priority and give it a fair shake, but let’s be real, the biggest nudge was the narrator.
What’s The Story Here?
When Harbinger Jones, known as Harry, was a kid, he was tied to a tree by this bully. Unfortunately, a storm hits, the kids all go inside, everyone forgets about Harry and he gets struck by lightning. It totally scars his face and he doesn’t look anything like Powder. He ends up in the hospital and put on morphine for the pain and a methadone addict at a very young age. From there, he experiences all kinds of bullying in school. Harry doesn’t have any friends until eighth grade when Johnny comes along and tells some bullies to knock it off. They listen because Johnny is one of the cool kids and just has that sort of presence about him. Also it’s like the late 70s early 80s, when punk rock is becoming a thing. Harry and Johnny form a band on a whim, called the Scar Boys, and end up with their first gig at CGBGs (rest in peace). Eventually, their band kind of blows up and they go on a tour down the East Coast. All hell breaks loose and friendships are tested. OH and the framing device of this book is that Harry is writing an admission essay for Scranton College and refuses to be constrained by 250 words.
How Is Harry As A Character?
As a character, Harry has been through some real life situations. His life is not easy. He’s living with some pretty severe scars and such. He does spend a lot of time feeling bad for himself in Vlahos’s The Scar Boys, but let’s be rational for a hot second. Who remembers being a teenager? I do. I used to spend all sorts of time feeling bad for myself and I am not even disfigured. So, it’s not really beyond the pale that Harry also indulges in self-pity. He also has a pretty legitimate reason beyond that his crush doesn’t like him. Anyways, I think I just really began gelling with Harry when he got into the bad and just was so passionate and enthusiastic about making music. Vlahos’s best writing is when he’s describing Harry’s feelings playing music up on stage when everything comes together. That’s the best, and you’ll totally get why I am like YES THIS IS COOL when I talk about this book and about Harry. He’s interesting because he’s got an interest and a passion.
How’s The Narration?
All hail Lincoln Hoppe and his rough voice narration skills. Well, I just, I think that there is a sort of grit to Hoppe’s voice that really lends itself to stories about New Yorkers. FYI, Harry lives in Putnam County, NY which basically is super close to New York City, so Hoppe’s voice works. Anyways, this was a totally easy listen and was pretty much how I expected as far as narration goes. There’s also a song at the end, so yay? Hah, anyways, I liked how well the narrator meshed with the stories and the words. He’s believable as Harry.
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
I kind of see this book as Wonder‘s cynical older brother. The Scar Boys is dark and deep and has it’s ugly moments. It is not easy in that everything is cheerful and bright and people have magical human spirits. Instead, I felt that this book was painful and real. I really liked it a lot. I’d recommend it to people who are into music and rock and roll and also people who like historical fiction about the not so distant past.
Sum It Up With A GIF:
Rock and roll, my friend, rock and roll.