The Music of What Happens

352p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. Jan. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338215502.
RedReviewStarGr 10 Up—Max is a popular high school athlete who spends most of his free time with his two best friends, playing video games and joking around. Max has a secret, though, that he hasn't told anyone, not even his buddies, and he's trying to be the fighter his father raised him to be. Jordan is attempting to help his mom with their food truck. Jordan hires Max to work the food truck with him, and two boys who thought they had nothing in common find that they are more alike than they thought. This story has an easy, conversational tone, and the high jinks of the two boys and their separate groups of friends, in addition to their budding romance, provide much-needed relief from the intensity of the scenes in which each of them is dealing with his individual struggles. Some readers may be turned off by Max and his buddies and their "locker room talk," occasionally resorting to homophobic slurs. Max grapples with understanding whether he has actually been raped and what he should do about it; the consequences of the rape also cause him to question the lessons his father taught him as a young child. While the author makes clear what happened to Max, the assault is not described in graphic detail. In spite of this novel's focus on heavier topics, its readability and relatability will make it popular among most teens. Give to fans of Benjamin Alire Saenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.
VERDICT A first purchase for public and high school libraries.

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