By Len Vlahos
Available now from EgmontUSA
THE SCAR BOYS is the first novel from Len Vlahos, and it is a notable debut. It's the tale of Harry Jones, who is both extensively scarred from a childhood encounter with lightning and in a band. Both of these things are important to his story.
THE SCAR BOYS caught my attention from the very beginning. It's framed as a college essay, but Harry quickly gets fed up with the 250-word limit. I've filled out college application and scholarship essays; I know that frustration of trying to sum up everything interesting about your life into a single page. From there, Harry delves into his history, particularly his relationship with his best friend, the golden boy Johnny. They've been friends for a long time, but maturing and going off to college puts a strain on every relationship.
I thought that THE SCAR BOYS was an interesting, compelling novel. The relationships between the four band members are all different (although the drummer gets the least attention, sadly). It addresses disability and disfiguration without being cloying or reduced to pat inspiration. It has a disastrous road trip, and road trips are always good fodder for fiction.
THE SCAR BOYS will appeal to fans of Stephanie Kuehnert's I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE as well as teens who are into classic punk. (THE SCAR BOYS is historical fiction, not contemporary.) It's a fast-paced, character-driven novel delivered with appealing verve. If I were that faceless college administrator, I'd accept Harry.