“The Scar Boys” Len Vlahos

Rated 4 stars **** 2014. Egmont. ebook. ARC. Published January 21.

TheScarBoysHarbinger Robert Francis Jones was 8 years old when bullies tied him to a tree. The tree was struck by lightning and the resulting fire caused Harry to be severely burned. The many operations that followed caused massive transformations in his appearance; rendering him unrecognizable and assuring he’d be the target of bullies for many more years.

Now a high school graduate, Harry attempts to summarize his life story for a college acceptance essay. Each chapter begins with the name of the musicians, writers and title of a favorite rock song, and recounts an event of importance. With the title “Waiting on a Friend” (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and performed by the Rolling Stones) Harry tells readers of meeting his first friend. Johnny was more than a friend. He accepted Harry, introduced him to others, and was the yin to Harry’s yang.

The two of them got some friends together and formed a band called “The Scar Boys,” and Harry recounts their exploits in detail. Throughout their years together, Harry always deferred to Johnny’s leadership position in their friendship. Gradually he began to learn things that both terrified and pleased him, while also learning his friendship with Johnny wasn’t everything he thought it would be.

“The Scar Boys” is the story of a young, traumatized boy coming of age set against the backdrop of his love for music and his guitar. Vlahos does a fine job endearing Harry to his readers, despite overusing the phrase “strike that” to the point where I wanted to take a red marker and strike it out of the book.

Recommended for 18 years and older.

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