I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Scar Boys by Len Vlhos

Set in the early 1980s, this book starts off, when Harbinger "Henry" Francis Jones was eight-years-old and was tied to a tree and left there during a thunderstorm.  The lightening tore through the tree and the limb caught fire and landed on him, burning him.  His mother came and got him and saved his life.  He had a long road to recovery as he had a broken body with nerve damage and a half of his face and neck burned.  He would need to wear a wig to cover the patch of hair that would never grow back.  Two people really helped him come out of his funk over what happened: Lucky and Dr. Kenny. Lucky was a guy from the region who had survived a lightning strike and offered some words of advice: even the tiniest little event, something that can happen so quickly that you would miss if were you to blink your eyes, can have long-lasting, far-reaching consequences.  One little thing can cause so many other things to happen.  And here is the secret.  All these things that happen, if you don't control them, they will control you.   Dr. Kenny is a cool rock n' roll child therapist with whom he sees for years to help him through the trials of life as someone who is very different.

And life wasn't easy. He became an easy target for the bullies and no one wanted to be his friend.  Or at least he couldn't see it because he was so obsessed with being invisible and introverted that he overlooked any kindness or overtures.  Until Johnny McKenna waltzed into his life one afternoon saving him from a beating.  Johnny was one of the most popular kids in school.  And he had taken an interest in Harry.  He introduced Harry around to other kids and soon Harry was making more friends.  He was still getting beat up on occasion. Nothing was going to stop that. But when Johnny invites Harry over to his house for Halloween to dress as hobos and go trick or treating with a group of kids and he's set up Harry with a pretty girl things go well that night. Then when the girl sees Harry without the soot on his face she won't have anything to do with him. To make him feel better Johnny decides to start a band even though Harry can't play guitar and their friend Ritchie can't play drums and then their bass player flakes out. They hold auditions for a bass player and wind up taking on a knock-out of a girl Cheyanne whom Johnny tells them all that none of them can date, but is, of course, the first one to break that rule.

Playing becomes everything for Harry and so does Cheyanne with whom he is falling in love with.  They work at getting gigs including playing at CBGBs.  This book follows what happens to a group of kids whose goals might not all be the same and when there is more than one person in love with the same girl and who she will choose.  Will the band survive these bumps in the road or will there be something else in store for Harry who only wants to play guitar not go to college like all the other kids in his High School?

Note: A cool feature about this book is that each chapter title is the name of a song that fits that chapter. For example, the chapter titled "Hello, I Love You", a song by the Doors (he lists who wrote the song and then who performed the song) is when Harry meets the girl at Halloween whom he believes likes him, and who does until she sees his face without the soot.  All of the songs are songs they would listen to and don't go before the time period.  It's a very interesting and nifty creative device.

Childhood for all it’s good press, is a time when the human animal explores the dark side of the Force, pushing  the limit of the pain it’s willing to inflict on bugs, squirrels, and little neighborhood boys.  Most kids outgrow the darker impulses by high school. The ones that don’t spend their teenage years playing football, lacrosse, and dating the prom queen. (It doesn’t seem fair to me, either, but hey, I don’t make the rules.)
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 4)
Ask a nine-year-old a series of uninterrupted questions and eventually you can steer the conversation anywhere you want. Try it some time.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 19)
I don’t think there’s any explanation for how people become friends. Maybe it’s pheromones (we learned about pheromones in tenth grade biology), maybe it’s kismet (we learned about kismet in eleventh grade English), or maybe there’s no reason or explanation at all (I learned about unexplained things from Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of TV Series). With kids, there’s an even greater intensity to the speed at which new friendships form. To me, it seems like magic.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 29)
As we lay there that day, a new record form a band called Black Flag was on the turntable. If the Sex Pistols made the Who and Led Zeppelin sound like they were singing anthems from another age, Black Flag made the Sex Pistols sound overproduced and corporate, if that’s even possible.  This was a bunch of guys with a guitar, a bass, and a drum set that were—or at least it sounded like they were—recording on someone’s living room. And they sounded drunk.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 41)
Together we went to school on blues, rock, and country guitar styles, covering everything from pentatonic scales, to how to dampen the strings when using a distortion pedal without causing too much feedback. And, most important, he imbued me with the ancient and sacred knowledge that the most beautiful part of music is the space between notes.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 45)
There were obvious things like wedgies and punches and kicks, but sometimes the more twisted of the school’s goons would get creative. There was a kind of art to it.  The worst was in ninth grade shop class when a boy named Alvaro Dimatteo discovered the mystery and wonders of a blowtorch. (You need a license to drive a car or own a gun, but the board of education will hand any fourteen or fifteen-year-old a blowtorch. I need someone to explain that to me.)
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 51)
It’s funny how, to Yankee ears, a Southern accent on a woman sounds both charming and mysterious, a suggestion that a wild, untamed Scarlett O’Hara lurks beneath a praline-sweet exterior.  A man with the same accent is a different story.  He sounds slow, maybe a bit dim-witted.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 77)
Mary Beth was so out of my league that she wasn’t even in my dreams.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 100)
I was in a funk to end all funks. I was Parliament Funkadelic.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 146)
The truth is, I was beyond reason, beyond thought. It was the closest thing to playing the guitar I’d ever experienced.  I can’t find my own words to describe kissing Cheyenne, so I’ll share a Chinese proverb we’d learned in tenth grade English: Kissing is like drinking salted water you drink, and your thirst increases. 
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 193)
Socially I’m lower than a pariah and only barely higher than a corpse.
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 215)
I was starting to freak myself out, so I shifted gears and listed every Academy Award Best Picture nominee in reverse chronological order. (The fact that Chariots of Fire beat out Raiders of the Lost Ark is still one of the great crimes of the twentieth century.)
-Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys p 221)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scar-Boys-Fiction-Young-Adult-ebook/dp/B01IPSGRP0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486561668&sr=1-1&keywords=the+scar+boys

No comments:

Post a Comment