SKY by Roderick Townley


Age Range: 12 & up
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It’s 1959 in New York City, and Alec Schuyler, 15, loves jazz, “from the stride piano of Earl Hines to the latest releases of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk.” Quiet, often inaudible, particularly since his mother died two years ago, Sky expresses himself through playing the piano and composing. Misunderstood by his father, Sky bonds with a somewhat reclusive blind jazz musician. Townley’s story of kids on the brink of finding out what they want from life and what they must do to get there is an absorbing read, though the kids do have to deal with an overabundance of issues: oppressive parents, a male English teacher who touches his female students, anti-Semitism, cancer in loved ones. The author’s efforts to articulate the creative process, that jazz is an art form, are an important part of the narrative. But the many jazz and Beat poetry references, often used to set the historical context, ultimately come off as just a listing, rather than helping young readers understand the artists and their work. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-689-85712-8
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2004


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