Sunday, December 11, 2011

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron is a book for today’s youth.


Jon Skovron has translated a clear voice for today’s teen boy in Struts & Frets. It’s unique coffee stained, notebook looking cover would pique anyone’s interest. It calls to the very character it is written about; music lover, lyric searching heart that has a black hole of life in front of them. Sammy a guitar singing songwriter who literally has music in his blood leads us into his path of discovery and the gritty reality that it will take to hold on tight to his dreams.

Sammy a young adult on the brink of ending high school is in a band just named Tragedy of Wisdom, (not his choice) who has a whole load of other problems besides the ones that involve his band mates Joe, the lead singer with a short fuse attitude, and Rick his gay friend who doesn’t seem to have the heart to be in the band. Sam and his mom struggle with his Gramps, a former jazz pianist who has lost some of his sanity over the years and Sammy’s only musical confidant. Jen5 (the fifth Jennifer in school) is an artist who is Sam’s best friend and wants more out of their friendship. All of this rests on poor Sammy’s shoulders along with a Battle of the Bands contest approaching that he isn’t even sure if he has a band to enter with. The only place he can escape this overbearing tornado is while he writes the one thing he is sure of, music.

Sammy is an uncontaminated version of a teen boy today. He is honest in his thoughts and not always so in his words unless when he writes his music. He curses when he is angry yet can’t stand up to the lead singer Joe during his many tantrums when he criticizes his music. I love how easily he changes his relationship with his friend Jen5. When he realizes that someone else is interested in her he questions his relationship with Jen5 and realizes he can’t lose her and just kisses her without any doubt of calling her his girlfriend. I wish more friends would do this when they find they are attracted to each other, and scared of the almost impossible “what if.” I think Sammy’s interaction with Gramps were my favorite moments in Struts & Frets. You see that Sammy really does appreciate music and the history behind it. Gramps gives the most humorous and poetic advice to Sammy regarding his stage fright, Jen5 and music that it is heartbreaking when Joe realizes that he may be losing his Gramps.

Jen5 is lovable instantly. She is the cool artist that doesn’t care what people say and someone who really strengthens Joe as a songwriter and a man. She is able to make him feel special in so many ways and I credit Jon Skovron for making her confidence in the “next step” Sam and Jen take in their relationship very real and pure from the male point of view. Jen5 is seen as beautiful, strong and very opinionated through Sam’s eyes. When she unveils her paining of Sam at the open mic night I was delighted when Sam couldn’t put his reaction into words but chose to put his feelings into actions. Sometimes words do get in the way of things and they often do when it comes to Jen5.

Skovron has managed to put together a string of crazy characters. Rick, Sam’s best friend is the best comic relief and support needed for the story. He pushes Sam and tells him what he needs to hear but is not always willing to receive the same from Sam. Joe is a cookie cutter impression of a loud mouth lead singer who will still manage to surprise the reader. Sam’s mom is the definition of strength that comes with the title and never disappoints when it comes to supporting her son.

Struts & Frets is a soul-bearing book from a young man’s perspective. It is something that I feel all teens would enjoy. Sam’s inner thoughts are written in a lyrical manner that make you really think and reflect as a reader. It’s a candid look at young life today and really does tell a brief tale of what to expect when you try to follow your dream, especially if it falls in the artistic genre. Your dream doesn’t always work out the way you planned. If you are happy with just doing what you love for the rest of your life and not getting the recognition of the spotlight will you be okay with that? Skovron puts the definition of passion in a young persons face and mind and Struts & Frets will give someone with a dream something to digest. Dreams are not stomped on because someone says no, they just soar with more fierceness then every before saying out load that they will continue to sing, write, dance or play whether you like it or not. That’s what I got from Struts & Frets, now doesn’t that sound like something worth reading.  
          

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