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Struts & Frets Hardcover – November, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Music is the center of Sammy Bojar's world, despite his therapist mother's urging that he pursue a more profitable career and stable lifestyle. Though he is now sinking into dementia, Sammy's grandfather, a jazz musician, is still able to encourage his grandson to follow his dream: "You're like me…. Always reaching for the moon." When Sammy's band decides to enter a competition that could result in a chance to record in a real studio, he fluctuates between his extravagant dreams of rock-star fame and his nagging fear that the group is far from ready to perform. Meanwhile, he struggles with the realization that a longtime friend wants to be his girlfriend. When it becomes clear that their romance is about to become more physical, Jen5 responsibly blurts out a reminder not to "forget to…uh…go to the drugstore before you come over." The resulting hilarious scene in which Sammy is utterly baffled by the vast variety of condoms on display is just one of the narrative's many entertaining depictions of the turmoil of growing up. A playlist identifies the songs mentioned in the text, while a classroom scene in which Sammy's teacher reads aloud from Macbeth makes the origin of the book's title clear. This debut novel will find an audience not just with music fans, but also with those who appreciate a good coming-of-age story.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jon Skovron is a music geek who can play nine instruments, but none of them well. This is his first novel. In his spare time, he writes technical manuals and tries to forget about his sordid past as an actor. He lives with his wife and two kids outside Washington, D.C. To learn more about him, the book, or the music, visit him at www.strutsandfretsbook.com.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (November 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810941740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810941748
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,827,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Skovron has been an actor, musician, lifeguard, Broadway theater ticket seller, warehouse grunt, technical writer, and web developer. Now he is a father and the author of Young Adult novels Struts & Frets, Misfit and the forthcoming Man Made Boy, as well as many short stories and essays. He generally likes stories that are dark, strange, and occasionally funny.

Jon was born in Columbus, Ohio. After traveling around a bit, from Pittsburgh to London to New York to Seattle, he has settled, somewhat haphazardly, in the Washington, DC area, where he and his two sons can regularly be seen not fitting into the general Government scene.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
67%
4 star
27%
3 star
7%
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See all 15 customer reviews
This depicts a real life dilemma to which everyone can relate.
Whiter
The characters were easy to like and I enjoyed reading Sammy's story.
Zia
I love this book, and I look forward to sharing it again and again.
Saundra Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Saundra Mitchell on October 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Struts & Frets is about Sammy- a teen boy who wants nothing more than to make music. This dream is unfortunately complicated by the members of his band, and his grandfather's descent into dementia. Sammy is so real and wonderfully drawn; I could feel his hesitation about singing publicly, and watching him avoid and avoid unpleasant things until he had to deal with them just rang so true. I love how, despite the very strong emotions and dark moments in this book, it's never angsty or wallowy- it's just really honest from beginning to end.

I loved so much seeing a male protagonist fall in love with a smart, competent girl that... he continues to love when she continues to be smart and competent. I thought the way their relationship unfolded was so real and such an oasis in the middle of so much turmoil. I loved that he figured out forgiveness- that some people could be, and other people couldn't be.

And every word works. Unlike dense, packed-page novels where the words are stacked nine-deep and you might figure out what they mean if you diagram (although the stacking itself is gloriously lush), the words in Struts & Frets work. It means something when the characters hurl insults. It means something when these characters make promises. It means something with the main character has revelations- small and great.

I love this book, and I look forward to sharing it again and again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Woodard on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Struts and Frets tells the coming of age story of Sammy Bojar. He is a high school rock and roll garage band. Music is in his blood, and his grandfather was a jazz musician. So, maybe his band could be huge one of these days, if the fighting stops and does not self-destruct first. The upcoming Battle of the Bands would justify all the band;s compromises and it would also reassure Sammy that
his dream could become a reality. Practices are hard to schedule when Sammy's grandfather is sick and getting worse, his mother is too busy to help either of them, and his best friend may want to be his girlfriend. When everything in Sammy's life seems to be headed for major catastrophe, will his music be enough to keep him together?
Sammy was an interesting character and I really like him. Jen5 was also amazing, too. She was such a kick ass girl. Sammy and Jen5 were so cute with another, but I felt that their relationship was a bit rushed. The plot was interesting and entertaining. It was a really original book. I loved the fact that there were many layers to this book. Skovron was an amazing writer and I could tell that he loved music. I recommend that you check out this book, if you love music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James F. Booth on December 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This was a fantastically written debut novel. Skovron's voice and style are perfect for this novel, which is filled with humor, introspection, first love, and figuring out what it takes to believe in yourself and going after your dreams. Sammy is a relatable character who has flaws and is multi-dimensional, as are the secondary characters, who are also fully fleshed out and seem real. One of my favorite characters to read about was Rick (you can find out why in the excerpt vlog posted a few days ago) because he was funny and sarcastic, but also had issues keeping him back from making himself happy in the romance department. My problem with him though is that I felt like there was much more to him and I didn't really get to know about it. I know the story is about Sammy, but at the same time, if you introduce a subplot involving another character, I want to be fully satisfied by the end of it and I feel like that wasn't the case; it was a very small, simple arc when there was clearly much more to it. Alright, I'll stop harping on this complaint and move on, lol.

I loved the romance between Sammy and Jen5. The realization of it, their conversations about it, and how they interacted during the beginning stages of their relationship all felt very real to me and it's great to see this honest portrayal of best friends becoming romantically involved and all the obstacles and questions that come along with it.

The music aspect was very interesting and I loved the inclusion of Sammy's lyrics throughout the book while he was working on them. It gave this new perspective to him that I think readers will enjoy. Also, a tiny little aside, every time Joe (the lead singer) was in a scene, I kept picturing Nathan Explosion from the band Dethklok on the show Metalocalypse on Cartoon Network. Did anyone else have that connection or am I just weird?

Anyway, this is a highly recommended book, so go get a copy as soon as you can!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I freaking loved this book. Any book that can make Jane's Addiction and Shakespeare come together to create a beautiful story has my full support. And it didn't hurt that the writing style has a rawness and openness about it that nearly broke my heart and kept me laughing all at once.

Sammy Bojar is going to be the next big thing--or will be after the current next big thing gets out of his way. All he has to do is figure out how to keep his indie/punk/metal band together, turn his best friend into his girlfriend and watch his grandfather slip into dementia. Luckily band front-man Joe seems to be keeping it together, Jen5 knows just how to deal with a new emo-rocker boyfriend and Gramps still has plenty of musical lessons to teach. Sammy's candle might just have a chance to burn long and bright before it is put out.

And that's just scratching the surface. This book proves that fame and music and life aren't always pretty nor as satisfying as Hollywood would have you believe. It's messy and complicated and heartbreaking, yet it's also full of tomorrows and potential.

Skovron doesn't belittle adolescent feelings of love and fear and compassion, nor does he skirt over issues like sex or make a big deal out of things like homosexuality and drinking. The story focuses on the music and stays true to character development. The teens in this novel are down to earth and struggle with the same issues of insecurity and hope that all real-life teens deal with every day.

While the story arc is a little rough and the adult characters are a little cliche, this is an amazing debut novel. I am honored to have it stand next to my other YA music books like
...Read more ›
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