Boy Seeking Band

240p. Capstone. Sept. 2017. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781623708535.
Gr 4–7—Eighth grader Terence Kato recently lost his mother and transferred from his prestigious private school, Hart Arts, to the local public school, where bullies roam the halls and the "unfocused, untalented" jazz band can't hold a candle to Terence's old group, the Kato Quintet. Meanwhile, Terence's father has depression and spends days in his bathrobe marathoning '90s television, leaving Terence to fend for himself. Desperate to escape the dark clouds at home and needing an outlet for his musical talents, the boy combs the halls of Franklin Middle School to find members for his new rock band. The first willing participant is the enigmatic Eddie, whose "vocals are rich and lovely as a devil's food cake covered in honey." As Terence grows closer to Eddie and the rest of the bandmates, a Battle of the Bands competition approaches, and Terence must come to terms with his new life. Unfortunately, an interesting premise disappoints with prose that suffers from a jarring narration, a trite deus ex machina ending, and a cursory examination of grief and depression that only hints at deeper character development. Likewise, the protagonist's prejudiced and privileged opinion of public school education begins to grate as the novel goes on and is never really challenged.
VERDICT Similarly plotted books like Erin Entrada Kelly's Blackbird Fly do a better job of appealing to music lovers without sacrificing quality of prose or emotional depth.

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