Guitar Notes

Guitar Notes

4.4 20
by Mary Amato

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A "sweet story of two different loners finding their counterpoint" (School Library Journal) from a star of state master and children's choice lists making her YA debut. Clean YA with the emotional resonancy of John Green and Sarah Dessen.

On odd days, Tripp Broody uses a school practice room to let loose on a borrowed guitar. Eyes closed, strumming that beat-up


A "sweet story of two different loners finding their counterpoint" (School Library Journal) from a star of state master and children's choice lists making her YA debut. Clean YA with the emotional resonancy of John Green and Sarah Dessen.

On odd days, Tripp Broody uses a school practice room to let loose on a borrowed guitar. Eyes closed, strumming that beat-up instrument, Tripp escapes to a world where only the music matters.

On even days, Lyla Marks uses the same practice room. To Tripp, she’s trying to become even more perfect—she’s already a straight-A student and an award-winning cellist. But when Lyla begins leaving notes for him in between the strings of the guitar, his life intersects with hers in a way he never expected. 

What starts as a series of snippy notes quickly blossoms into the sharing of interests and secrets and dreams, and the forging of a very unlikely friendship.

Challenging each other to write songs, they begin to connect, even though circumstances threaten to tear them apart.

From beloved author Mary Amato comes a YA novel of wit and wisdom, both heartfelt and heart­breaking, about the power of music and the unexpected chords that draw us together.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Two very different high school students discover a mutual appreciation for writing songs for the guitar. Tripp Broody has lost a lot; his father died and his best friend moved away. He doesn't really connect with people, especially his nagging mother whose "help" isn't much appreciated. In contrast, Lyla Marks is perfect. She gets good grades, her teachers love her, and she plays the cello beautifully. Things are not perfect, however, as both her best friend and father suffocate her with unrealistic expectations and adulation over her talent. Forced to share a music practice room on alternating days at school, Lyla leaves a heated note one day when Tripp doesn't throw out his trash. This leads to a pen-pal-like exchange daily, and eventually in-person musical collaboration that promises to change both of their lives forever. Many chapters are structured as Tripp's and Lyla's notes, giving readers a unique vantage point into their burgeoning friendship. The teens find kindred spirits in one another, allowing them to develop lyrics for songs they write in a fluid and natural way. While the end of the novel has a bit of contrived tragedy, this is nevertheless a sweet story of two different loners finding their counterpoint.—Ryan P. Donovan, New York Public Library
Publishers Weekly
Amato (Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook) pens a music-driven meet-cute starring two dissimilar high school students. Trip Broody is an observant introvert whose only release is playing guitar. When his mother takes it away from him, in the hopes that he will become more social, he uses a school guitar and practice room, alternating days with Lyla Marks, a talented cellist who is under tremendous external pressure to get into a prestigious conservatory. What begins as an exchange of terse notes between Tripp and Lyla turns into emails and text messages, and soon a close friendship anchored by their shared love of music evolves. Trip encourages Lyla to loosen up, she draws him out of his shell, and they find similarities in their lives and begin to write music together. Amato nicely captures Tripp’s love of music and Lyla’s anxieties, though the story takes a late melodramatic turn that jars with the comparatively light material that precedes it. While the story is notably “clean” (Tripp and Lyla’s relationship is entirely chaste, and there’s no swearing, alcohol, etc.), the characters’ chemistry will have readers’ hearts racing. Ages 12–up. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Tripp Broody and Lila Marks (Mr. Odd and Ms. Even) alternate lunch-period use of an instrumental practice room and a school guitar, developing a bond through their shared feelings of pressure and their love for making their own music. Lila's deceased mother was a professional cellist. While Lila expects to follow in her footsteps, part of her would like a break from both the cello and a demanding best friend, Annie Win. Playing the guitar helped Tripp forget the death of his father and the absence of his best friend, who moved away, but his mother has confiscated his instrument until his grades improve. It is their developing emotional relationship rather than a physical connection that defines the novel. Short, third-person present-tense vignettes, each headed with a place and date, carry the plot along, helped by frequent emails, text messages and handwritten notes, as well as illustrations (not seen, but said to include music, notes, tests and receipts). The intense drama of the ending surprises after the gradual development of their friendship, but the picture of the myriad pressures teens feel rings true. Amato, also a Washington, D.C.–area songwriter, weaves in convincing musical detail and advice that will appeal especially to readers experimenting with an instrument themselves. This one will resonate. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Fiction - Young Adult
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
680L (what's this?)
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Amato is the author of many acclaimed books for children including Invisible Lines, which was nominated for the California Young Readers Medal and was selected for the Missouri Truman Awards Master List. Of that book, The Washington Post states, “you may come to learn . . . an important lesson about what really matters in life. But amid all that learning of important lessons, there will be a good bit of giggling, too.”

A prolific songwriter, Mary sings, plays the guitar, and teaches songwriting. She also performs in the Washington, DC, area. Guitar Notes is her first novel for young adult readers.
Mary lives in Maryland with her family. You can visit her online at and learn more about writing your own music and the joy of thrumming at

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Guitar Notes 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is soooo amazing! I enjoyed it so much! Best book I have ever read!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing so far! I feel bad for lyla after that wreck that put her in the hospital. I really recommened this book if you like orchestra or just any music in general.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing with great characters and suspense. An awesome novel! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My librarian suggested this book to me so I decided to read it. This is one of the few books that brought me to tears. Absolutely loved this book. I could not put ot down! I recommend this to anyone interested in romance and music, or both!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’m in an odd place with Guitar Notes. Even though there were parts of the story I would’ve changed, I also blew through the whole thing in about an hour. This is a story I enjoyed now, but would’ve loved in late high school when I was obsessed with any and all stories featuring musician characters. One of the things I appreciated about Guitar Notes was the effortless switching between the boy and girl POVs–another thing high school me would’ve loved–and the fact that the majority of the songs referenced were original and written out. Having attempted to write books with original songs in them, I understand how hard it is to do well. There were definitely songs I liked better than others, but I thought it was fantastic that all of them were included in their entirety. If there was one thing I didn’t really get behind, it was how cruel the parents were. Lyla’s dad had something of a reason, but I never fully understood why Tripp’s mother hated his guitar so much. In my experience as a musician, parents tend to be more ambivalent than hateful, and the attitudes of the mother and father in this book didn’t reflect that at all. Similarly, I loved that Tripp and Lyla never turned into a couple, because I felt that that would’ve ruined the awesome friend vibes they had going on. That being said, I felt the final twist was annoyingly predictable, and I read especially fast through that to find out if it ended like I thought it would. (It did.) Overall, this wasn’t a book I particularly loved or hated. The two protagonists and the freshness of the music carried what might have been a slightly stale plot otherwise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book so much I just had to read it a second time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was fine.
robbiewaeschle More than 1 year ago
i loved the book but i felt like ending was a cliff hanger there should be a squeal to it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guitar Notes is witty and original. The characters are brilliant, full of life, and fun to read about. I couldn't put this book down. I suggest this book to anyone who is looking for a amazing, hilarious, heartbreaking, and all around memoriable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it . It is the best book ive read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book takes you into a life at school with miss perfect and the boy everybody laughs at and calls weird because they dont know him. This book shows just how much the school social systems work and how they can change just as quickly as they appear. Ms. Even and Mr. Odd are the most amazing characters ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg sooooooo good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good but expensive I got it at my school's book fair and it was only 5$
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bset book eevr! I leovd it! olny poblrem is...... taht tehre isn't one! This is a message from Ms. Reads-alot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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