From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9–After a car accident leaves Travis's mother with traumatic brain injuries, his father can't cope–he loses his job, forces the kids to quit school, and eventually kicks Travis out of the house. Armed with eight dollars, some food, and his mother's guitar, the 13-year-old sets out to make his way in the Adirondack Mountains surrounding his home. Surviving through the kindness of strangers, especially a guitar-maker and his friends who refrain from alerting child services, Travis discovers that music is the key to healing his mother and his family. It's rather unbelievable that in a story of a boy living on his own, the worst Travis endures is rainy nights and an unscrupulous musician stealing his guitar. Good people help Travis almost everywhere he turns and give him a place to stay and recover and process what has happened. The tidy ending fits well with the story that flirts with, but never crosses over to, gritty territory. In a story populated with old men and crusty but kindhearted diner waitresses, Travis's week on his own may seem like a fantasy, but offers readers a glimpse into small-town mountain life.Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD
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After suffering brain trauma from an accident on an Adirondack road, Travis Tacey’s mom loses her ability to speak, and life at home grows steadily tenser until Travis’ dad throws his 13-year-old son out the door. Scared and hungry, Travis tries to make a living singing with his mom’s old guitar, but then even that small comfort gets stolen. Miraculously, Travis finds a job with a gifted guitar maker who shares Travis’ love of music, which helps him begin to find his way. The story gets off to a slow start with sketchy, unconvincing development of Travis’ father and older sister, but Auch’s novel takes off when Travis begins his solo journey. Naïve, angry, grieving, and determined Travis is wholly believable. The inclusion of the luthier and his kindly crony allows Auch to provide intriguing information about the making and playing of guitars. Budding musicians will be fascinated by the details, but all readers will find their heartstrings plucked by this story that demonstrates the healing impact of music on a wounded family. Grades 5-8. --Lynn Rutan