Editor’s Choice

Here readers will find a list of titles that the editor has chosen to highlight. Each month a new title is added to this list

This Month’s Editor’s Choice

Guitar Notes

Guitar Notes

Mary Amato
For ages 12 and up
Egmont, 2012   ISBN: 978-1606845035
Ever since Lyla’s mother died in a plane crash years ago, Lyla has devoted a great deal of time to learning to play the cello, the instrument her mother played as a professional musician. Lyla is a superb player now and spends hours practicing, playing with others, and preparing for auditions. Driven on by her friend Annie and by her father, Lyla spends her life on a never ending treadmill of things that need to be done. These days Lyla is almost permanently in a state of anxiety and at times this almost becomes panic.
   Ever since his best friend left and his father died, Tripp has not really cared about much. He has retreated into himself and chooses not to socialize with anyone. The only thing he really cares about is his guitar. He plays his guitar so much that his mother decides to take it away from him. Tripp cannot believe that she would do such a thing. How can she take away the one thing that makes his life worth living?
   To get around his guitar-less condition, Tripp signs up to use one of the school practice rooms at lunch on odd days. He is able to borrow a school guitar and happily goes into the little practice room to commune with the six strings that give him so much joy. On even days Lyla uses the practice room, and when she finds some trash that Tripp left behind the day before she leaves him a snippy note, which he responds to.
   Tripp thinks that Lyla is one of the “perfect” girls. She is pretty, a great student, a fantastic musician, and everyone loves her. Lyla thinks Tripp is a strange boy who refuses to be normal like everyone else.
   After seeing Lyla perform on her cello in school Tripp asks her, in a note, if she is happy when she plays the cello. No one has ever asked Layla this question and she is floored by it. In spite of herself she responds, telling Tripp that she is not happy. In fact she feels trapped by her “perfect” life. Annie and her father expect her to go to a music conservatory that Lyla is not sure she wants to attend. She admits that she plays the cello like a “machine” rather than connecting with it on a deep emotional level. 
   Tripp challenges Lyla to try the guitar, and though she has no idea how to play such an instrument, Lyla tentatively experiments with the instrument. Guided by Tripp she even tries singing with some chords, which is when a whole new world opens up to her. Together, the young musicians step out of their respective ruts and find solace in music and their growing friendship.
   Young people often feel trapped when they forced to take a path that is not of their choosing. They go along with it, not daring to be themselves, to assert their independence, and to speak out about their fears and needs. This is what happens to Tripp and Lyla and it is, at times, heartbreaking to watch them struggle, which is why it is so amazing to see how they both blossom when they find one another; when they find a kindred spirit. Musicians in particular will fall in love with this book, but anyone who feels or has felt lost and misunderstood will also be lifted up by this amazing story.
   At the back of the book readers will find the lyrics and chords for the songs that Layla and Tripp compose together.

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