Tripp Broody and Lila Marks (Mr. Odd and Ms. Even) alternate lunch-period use of an instrumental practice room and a school guitar, developing a bond through their shared feelings of pressure and their love for making their own music.
Lila's deceased mother was a professional cellist. While Lila expects to follow in her footsteps, part of her would like a break from both the cello and a demanding best friend, Annie Win. Playing the guitar helped Tripp forget the death of his father and the absence of his best friend, who moved away, but his mother has confiscated his instrument until his grades improve. It is their developing emotional relationship rather than a physical connection that defines the novel. Short, third-person present-tense vignettes, each headed with a place and date, carry the plot along, helped by frequent emails, text messages and handwritten notes, as well as illustrations (not seen, but said to include music, notes, tests and receipts). The intense drama of the ending surprises after the gradual development of their friendship, but the picture of the myriad pressures teens feel rings true. Amato, also a Washington, D.C.–area songwriter, weaves in convincing musical detail and advice that will appeal especially to readers experimenting with an instrument themselves.
This one will resonate. (Fiction. 12-16)