Reviews for The Scar Boys : a novel

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Harbinger Harry Jones was horribly disfigured in a childhood accident involving lightning and a flaming tree branch, but despite years of therapy, he has never been able to move beyond his mangled appearance. He finds some comfort and even popularity as the lead guitarist of the punk outfit The Scar Boys with his best friend, Johnny, on vocals; stalwart Ritchie on drums; and enigmatic Chey on bass but it's still not enough to make him feel like anything but a freak. Playing in the band is the only time Harry feels normal, so he urges the Scar Boys to embark on a tour, which radically changes their lives and gives Harry a healthy dose of perspective. Vlahos' debut has all the hallmarks of a coming-of-age story, but the first-person narration is compelling enough that it still feels fresh. Harry's obsession with punk music will appeal to music lovers, while his journey to accept himself for who he is scarred face and all is one that will likely resonate with any teen trying to find his way in the world.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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Publishing exec Vlahos debuts with a coming-of-age/rock-and-roll novel mashup written in the form of a college admissions essay (one that blows past the 250-word limit). Left physically and psychologically scarred by a childhood accident involving bullies and lightning, Harbinger "Harry" Jones is ignored or considered a "freak" at school. In middle school, he's befriended by a kid named Johnny, and in high school they start a band. When they take the show on the road, life becomes immeasurably more entertaining, especially with crushworthy Cheyenne on board as the Scar Boys' bassist. Injuries aside, Harry's trajectory loosely mirrors Vlahos's time as the guitarist for a touring punk/pop band, so details like how to cut a record, land a gig at the now-defunct club CBGB (the novel is set in the 1970s and '80s), or rework a tour when the van breaks down strongly resonate. This, along with the author's clear passion for music, balances out a few clunky structural elements, such as flashbacks within the already retrospective narration, as Harry learns to open up to himself and others. Ages 14-up. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-Harry Jones opens his story by submitting a 250-word essay to a college admissions board-only he goes a book length over the limit. In so doing he recounts his traumatic past: the terrifying scene in which neighborhood bullies tied him to a tree and left him as a storm rolled in.and how the tree was struck by lightning, leaving him with disfiguring burn scars all over his face. He then describes his physical and mental recovery: how he formed a band that toured all over the country.and even kissed a girl. Set in the early 1980s, Vlahos's narrative flows easily and rings true. If Brent Runyon's The Burn Journals (Knopf, 2004) and Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Pocket Books, 1999) could be melded into a single work, it might be this one. Distinguished in every way.-Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.