Review: The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

scar boys

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Trying to fill out a college application, Harry decides to ignore the word limit and tell his full story to that point.  When he was 8 years old, kids in his neighborhood tied him to a tree during a thunderstorm.  The tree was struck by lightning and set ablaze with Harry tied directly to it.  Harry has severe scars both physically and emotionally from that day.  Harry had no friends until Johnny came into his life, a charismatic and confident boy who swept down and saved Harry from obscurity and loneliness.  Together the two of them started a band, one that really sucked at first, but then amazingly got better and better.  Called The Scar Boys, the band transported Harry from his dull life into a different type of storm, one of music and pure joy.  But bands often fall apart and so do high school friendships on the brink of college.  As the future looms closer, Harry has to figure out what to give up on and what is worth fighting to keep.

Vlahos’ debut teen novel is a screamingly funny wild ride.  The author was in a band himself when he was younger and the moments onstage read honest, zany and completely true.  The writing throughout is smart and clever, making points with arrow-sharp zingers that are surprising and make for a great read.  Here is one from page 97:

Truth is, if we’d had a shred of sense, we’d have known we were getting in way over our heads.  But you can’t buy shreds of sense, and even if you could, we were pretty much out of money.

Harry is a great protagonist.  He is witty and smart himself, since the book is written in first person from his point of view.  Vlahos manages to never lose track of Harry’s scars but also manages to make his scars much deeper than his skin and therefore the book about much more than that as well.  It is a book that explores friendships, power and dreams. 

An amazing debut novel, it has a winning mix of punk rock, guitars and real life.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from digital galley from Edelweiss and Egmont.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I hope you find interesting:


9 Life Lessons Everyone Can Learn From These Beloved Classic Children’s Books #kidlit

2014 Spring/Summer Picture Book Preview| Minh Le | #kidlit

Black history books teach children about traditions, unsung heroes #kidlit

Books on Film: Making ‘The Calls’ — @100scopenotes 100 Scope Notes #kidlit

COVER REVEAL: Raina Telgemeier’s ‘Sisters’ — The Beat #kidlit

Exclusive: JK Rowling on Harry Potter character Gilderoy Lockhart – audio | Children’s books #kidlit

Happy Year of the Horse! – The Horn Book #kidlit

‘Harry Potter’ Ending May Be Wrong, Says JK Rowling #kidlit

How stories and reading can help teach children about disability | Guardian Professional #kidlit

Jim Henson Company Options Rights to Randi Zuckerberg’s Picture Book DOT; Plans New Animated TV Series #kidlit

New ALSC Rule Will Limit Awards Committee Members’ Reviewing, Blogging | School Library Journal #libraries #blogging

Pip Jones’s top 10 cats in children’s books | Children’s books #kidlit

Tim Federle@TimFederle Feb 3

Confidence is overrated. Everything I’ve ever been proud of began in a place of total uncertainty.

Video: Mo Willems reacts to winning a 2014 Giesel honor:


FCC makes “close call” in issuing e-reader waiver – District Dispatch #ebooks


FCC: The time is now to speed library broadband connections #libraries

Minnesota’s libraries are rushing to adapt to a post-book world | Star Tribune #libraries

Sonoma Library to Host Minecraft Camp – The Digital Shift #libraries


For Black History Month, a time line to what black history in YA fiction looks like: …

Manga comics: where to start | Children’s books #kidlit #manga

Outstanding Books for the College Bound | Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) #yalit

Ransom Riggs, photo collector – Fine Books and Collections #yalit

2014 Notable Children’s Books–Older Readers and All Ages

The Association for Library Service to Children has announced their picks for the best books for children from 2013.  The books below are from the older reader section which is for ages 11-14 as well as the all ages section.


15000122 Counting by 7s

Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty. Freedman, Russell.

Counting by 7s. Sloan, Holly Goldberg. 

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers Darius & Twig 

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers. Stone, Tanya Lee.

Darius & Twig. Myers, Walter Dean.

Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty

Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People. Rubin, Susan Goldman.

Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty. Bolden, Tonya.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) Far Far Away Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design

Etiquette & Espionage. Carriger, Gail. 

Far Far Away. McNeal, Tom. 

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. Kidd, Chip.

The Living March (Book One) Navigating Early

The Living. de la Peña, Matt.  

March: Book One. Lewis, John and Aydin, Andrew. Illus. by Nate Powell.

Navigating Early. Vanderpool, Clare.

One Came Home Paperboy Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

One Came Home. Timberlake, Amy. 

Paperboy. Vawter, Vince. 

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Medina, Meg. 



Journey Poems to Learn by Heart

Journey. Becker, Aaron.

Poems to Learn by Heart. Kennedy, Caroline. Illus. by Jon J Muth.