Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Books I've Read: Junk Magic and Guitar Dreams

This was one of those frustrating books where I really liked part of the story, and found another part of it just didn't work for me.

Otter is a fifteen-year-old boy whose mother has just died from cancer.  Before she died, she made sure he was capable of living alone and made the arrangements for him to be emancipated so he wouldn't have to face foster care or a group home.  Now Otter lives alone in a trailer park, struggling to keep the lights on and himself fed on what he earns working part time at a car wash.

Life is pretty grim, but Otter keeps himself going with the dreams of what might happen once his band hits the big time.  They have their first big gig coming up, so it's possible...  And in the meantime, there's his biker neighbor to hang out with when things get too much to take.  The biker neighbor who starts pressuring him to join his group called Odin's Warriors.

Just when life is complicated enough, Otter falls for the new singer who joins the band.  Falls hard and fast.  But Amber doesn't seem to notice his epic crush.  Or if she does, she doesn't care.

When Otter receives a box of stuff his grandfather has left him, he doesn't think much of it.  He had to miss a day of work to schlepp downtown to pick it up, and when he opens it, it's full of garbage he probably won't even be able to pawn.  But when he picks out an item from the box, he's suddenly overwhelmed by memories.  And they're not his own.

I liked Otter as a character.  He was both tough and vulnerable, stubborn and impressionable.  I wanted to adopt him and bring him home to live with me.  He made stupid decisions and was too proud to ask for help even when he desperately needed it.  His life was so hard, but a lot of that was his own doing because there were people trying to make things easier for him all the way through. He just couldn't or wouldn't see it.

What I didn't like about the book was the magical way the objects in his grandfather's box gave him memories.  This book was so gritty and realistic in depicting Otter's life, the sudden appearance of magical memory-giving artifacts didn't really gel with me even if the memories did give Otter a deeper understand of his family and who he really is.

It's probably just me, because I'm not a huge fan of fantasy or magic.  There was nothing really wrong with the memories or the information they gave Otter about where he came from, but I just didn't really buy the magical way this information was provided to him.  But like I say, that's probably just me...

Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this one in advance.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

A guitar, a box of junk, and a pile of trouble...

Fifteen-year-old Otter is in a dark place. When he loses his mom to cancer, Child Services wants to put him in foster care, or even a home for troubled youth.

Living on his own, he’s one bad decision away from the street. His band’s first gig is only two weeks away, but his crush on their new lead singer has him tied in knots.

Then he inherits a box of random junk from a dead grandfather he barely knew. Can his grandfather’s memories help Otter win the girl of his dreams, reconnect with his family, and keep him out of juvenile detention...maybe even become a rock star?

1 comment:

  1. Fifteen year olds generally make stupid decisions. It's why they probably shouldn't be allowed to live on their own.