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The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters Hardcover – May 12, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—It's the early 1980s in Portland, OR, and girls are disappearing without a trace. Punk protagonist Noah believes that he knows who's to blame. In what seems to be threads of magical realism, he discovers a mysterious David Bowie look-alike, Ziggie, who helps him uncover and work to defeat the Marr, a "toxic darkness" that threatens the girls in the city as well as his best friend Evan. Only music seems to stop the Marr, and Noah hopes that by playing at the battle of the bands being held in the sinister PfefferBrau Haus, he may be able to save his friend. As Noah delves deeper into his memories of his abusive father, his friendship with Evan, and his relationship with the girls in his band, the Gallivanters, he uncovers answers he wasn't expecting. These answers include the location of the missing girls, the secret to his own psychological mysteries, what is really wrong with Evan, and maybe the key that will help him deal with it all. This engaging story of friendship, mystery, music, and romance illuminates the vivid life of a complex teen. Noah's voice is authentic and draws readers into the narrative and its specific time and place as he copes with abuse, mental illness, and the loss of a close friend. Readers experience and discover along with Noah, and, after a roller coaster of emotions, are ultimately left with hope. VERDICT A sound addition to any YA collection.—Genevieve Feldman, San Francisco Public Library
"Noah’s voice is authentic and draws readers into the narrative and its specific time and place...A sound addition to any YA collection."
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You with me? Okay. Girls are going missing in Portland. One of them was found in the PfefferBrau Haus, a local brewery. Noah, a teen on the punk scene, swears the brothers running the brewery have something to do with it. A guy named Ziggy shows up – who just happens to bear a striking resemblance to David Bowie – and warns Noah about a creepy supernatural force called The Mar. Noah decides to resurrect his band, The Gallivanters, get into the battle of the bands at the PfefferBrau Haus, and bring the mystery of the missing girls to an end.
This book took a little bit to grow on me, but once it did, I committed to this story. We’ve got an unreliable narrator, which is always good for a page-turner. We’ve got a story of friendship, and a bit of a mystery that may involve the paranormal. And we have a story of loss that will sock you in the gut. Noah can be a frustrating narrator, but it’s in his character. The pacing can be a little bumpy, but overall, teens with an interest in the ’80s punk scene and whodunit fans will enjoy this one.
Then Noah meets Ziggy, a David Bowie look-alike. He convinces Noah, along with his band, The Gallivanters, to enter the battle of the bands at the brew house. Ziggy also introduces Noah to the Marr, an evil being that had taken the missing girls and was beginning to take parts of his best friend, Evan. Ziggy explains that the German brothers are somehow letting the Marr manifest in their town and how it can only be fought with music.
This book is definitely meant for older readers. It deals with physical and mental abuse, terminal illness, murders, and other more adult themes that make the book interesting. I would mainly recommend this book to 17 and up. The author does a great job of developing the characters and their relationships, especially the one between Noah and Evan. It has a fast-paced plot line that will keep the reader locked in. This book was a great had a great story that I am definitely glad to have read.
Review by Parker K, age 13, Smokey Mountain Mensa
I’ve seen this book labeled as paranormal. It is not. I’ve seen it described as confusing and unexciting. It is not. Taking this book at face value would be a grave mistake. It is, however, filled with symbolism, allegory and metaphors. This novel isn’t your average, everyday read. It’s something truly special, and as such, it will easily find the hearts of its true audience.
Beaufrand allows Noah to tell us his own story, but Noah’s mind is full of mysteries and monsters, missing girls and frightening fogs. He is more than happy to turn the spotlight on his best friend Evan, a modest, kind boy, a sidekick by nature if ever there was one. Noah and Evan have depended upon each other since they were just boys, and together they survived disasters, abuse, suicidal parents and hospitals. They made it thanks to each other and their music.
With tragedy behind him and tragedy on the horizon, Noah’s past and present painfully collide, and it’s far more than he can handle. In a desperate attempt to put his world to rights, he decides to re-form the Gallivanters, his failed punk band. The goal is to create a demo and enter a contest to play at a famous brewery, which happens to be the place where more than twenty girls disappeared.
Noah wants to be a musician and a knight, but even more, he wants Evan to be both. For a kid who is supposedly a self-centered troublemaker, he does very little for himself. Beaufrand delved deep into Noah psyche by subtly showing us consequences of constant horrible abuse, by giving us glimpses of a masochistic personality, and miraculously shaping it all into a character we can’t help but love. I am in awe.*
Be patient with this book. Be kind to it when it seems confusing and strange. Give it time, be tolerant, and the book will give back to you tenfold. This is quite easily my favorite book this year, with a quiet sort of beauty that might, just might, go tragically unnoticed. Some of the best things are, though, and I’ll always feel extremely lucky to have stumbled upon this gem.
*Just writing this review, thinking intensely about the beauty of this book, made me cry like a baby.