Enly and the Buskin’ Blues

Lerner. Feb. 2023. 208p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781728424569.
Gr 3-7–Enly Wu Lewis is a sixth grader who is living in the shadow of his high-achieving older brother, Spencer. His white father died when he was young and his Chinese mother struggles to make ends meet in their town, which is undergoing gentrification. Enly wants to be a musician like his dad and gets free music lessons from Miss Maisie, but she only teaches him show tunes. When his BFF Pinky shows him a flyer about a summer music camp, he’s excited to go, until he learns of the $2,800 tuition. Knowing that even if his mother had that kind of money, she would put it towards Spencer’s college tuition, Enly and Pinky devise a plan for him to busk downtown, but a piano is not portable. A series of blunders and high jinks lead to Enly to a melodica, an extremely lucky lottery ticket, and even more misfortune. This fast and furious plot will have readers alternately cringing and cheering at Enly’s impulsiveness, fully invested in this protagonist’s success. While the tone is light, some serious issues are gently explored: gentrification, grief, wealth and lack of it, family ties, and friendship.
VERDICT A recommended realistic fiction title with humor and depth.

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