The Scar Boys
By: Len Vlahos
Pub. Date: January 21, 2014
A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out.
In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores--Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.
The first defining moment: the day the neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm when he was 8 years old, and the tree was struck and caught fire. Harry was badly burned and has had to live with the physical and emotional scars, reactions from strangers, bullying, and loneliness that instantly became his everyday reality.
The second defining moment: the day in 8th grade when the handsome, charismatic Johnny rescued him from the bullies and then made the startling suggestion that they start a band together. Harry discovered that playing music transported him out of his nightmare of a world, and he finally had something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Harry's description of his life in his essay is both humorous and heart-wrenching. He had a steeper road to climb than the average kid, but he ends up learning something about personal power, friendship, first love, and how to fit in the world. While he's looking back at the moments that have shaped his life, most of this story takes place while Harry is in high school and the summer after he graduates.
The Scar Boys starts off with Harry telling the story of his life. He doesn't remember much of anything before he got the scars. He just knows he was an innocent, lonely child looking for a friend when a few boys from his neighborhood thought it would be a good idea to tie him to a tree. When a nasty thunderstorm rolls in the kids run home and leave Harry tied up. Then lightening hits the tree and catches fire-thus changing Harry's life forever. The first few chapters were so hard to read. It completely broke my heart.
Harry has gone through so much in his life. He has scars on his face and neck and has dealt with so much pain and bullying because of the way he looks. I loved that despite what Harry went through, he was still a good person who saw good in the world. He wasn't a bitter teenager like I imagined he would be. His first friend is Johnny. Johnny accepts him no matter how he looks. Though sometimes I couldn't tell if Johnny actually wanted to be Harry's friend or if he was just using him because Harry was such an easy target. Johnny was very controlling and even a little manipulative. I'm glad that Harry finally stuck up for himself and I love that it showed Johnny actually did care about Harry and their friendship.
I was not expecting to love The Scar Boys as much as I did. It is a beautifully written coming of age novel and I am so glad that I gave this one a shot. It's also extremely fast paced, which I love! The ending was so beautiful and sweet and I was left feeling very happy. I can't wait to read what Vlahos comes up with next!