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Struts & Frets
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Struts & Frets

4.1 9
by Jon Skovron

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Told in a voice that’s honest, urgent, and hilarious, Struts & Frets will resonate not only with teenage musicians but with anyone who ever sat up all night listening to a favorite album, wondering if they’d ever find their place in the world.
Music is in Sammy’s blood. His grandfather was a jazz musician, and Sammy’s


Told in a voice that’s honest, urgent, and hilarious, Struts & Frets will resonate not only with teenage musicians but with anyone who ever sat up all night listening to a favorite album, wondering if they’d ever find their place in the world.
Music is in Sammy’s blood. His grandfather was a jazz musician, and Sammy’s indie rock band could be huge one day—if they don’t self-destruct first. Winning the upcoming Battle of the Bands would justify all the band’s compromises and reassure Sammy that his life’s dream could become a reality. But practices are hard to schedule when Sammy’s grandfather is sick and getting worse, his mother is too busy to help either of them, and his best friend may want to be his girlfriend.
When everything in Sammy’s life seems to be headed for major catastrophe, will his music be enough to keep him together?

Editorial Reviews

Mary Quattlebaum
In this funny, poignant first novel, Sammy and his outsider buddies (including a best friend who may want to transition to girlfriend) emerge as distinct, believable characters; more surprising for a work of teen fiction, the adults are fully realized, too…Jon Skovron perfectly captures that passion—sometimes fierce, sometimes shy—that drives so many young artists to take the raw stuff of life and "transform it into something beautiful."
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
This first novel about a boy who loves music can be heavy-handed, but it hits enough high notes to be a crowd-pleaser. Sammy is trying to keep his band, Tragedy of Wisdom, together, but with a bullying singer and a spacey bassist, it seems destined to end in disaster. Of course, Sammy’s got his own problems, from his grandfather’s deteriorating health to a good friend who is hoping to escalate their relationship. After a bad open mike night, Sammy is convinced he “can’t sing in front of other people.” The characters are a bit extreme, such as Joe, the band’s rage-ridden frontman from the projects who writes a song about the “sanity closet.” Readers will easily predict the trajectory of Sammy’s story, but even so, this angsty protagonist is an easy character to like, and readers will relate to his struggle with the fact that “[t]hings happened that you couldn’t control.” The use of music throughout, as well as descriptions of what it’s like to play and perform, add flourish to this coming-of-age story. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)
VOYA - Caitlin Augusta
Skovron presents a musical bildungsroman set in Columbus, Ohio. Seventeen-year-old guitarist Sammy Bojar identifies most with his elderly grandfather who used to be a great jazz pianist. Sammy's band, The Tragedy of Wisdom, wants to enter a Battle of the Bands, but Sammy fears they lack the winning je ne sais quoi. The lead singer Joe abuses the other band members, the bass guitarist forgets his chords, and Sammy wonders if it will all hold together. As Sammy's band writhes with growing pains, Sammy pursues a relationship with longtime friend Jen5 and questions the depth of his own passion for music as a career. His grandfather's growing dementia and a disastrous music performance clarify Sammy's musical musings into a solid, if predictable conclusion. Although not startlingly original, Skovron's story will speak to teens with its credible, clear voice. Sammy is the epitome of a likeable narrator. His attempts to relate to his family, his new girlfriend Jen5, and his band members will connect him with readers from the first chapter. The plot is mostly predictable, but the well-realized setting and characters improve an oft-used plot line. Frank discussions of sexuality and an implied sex scene target this title to high school readers. For those who eat, drink, and sleep music or for those looking for a male protagonist with miles of heart, this novel will suit well. Pair up with Fat Kid Rules the World (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2003/VOYA June 2003) for another appealing look at the teen music scene. Reviewer: Caitlin Augusta
Nate Phillips
For Sammy Bojar, it's not about fame; it's about the music. He doesn't want to front a band that makes it big. He just wants to be part of a band that makes great music. But making great music while kicking off a more-than-friends relationship with his longtime best friend Jennifer, worrying about his grandfather's deteriorating sanity, and trying to keep his other friendships intact can get complicated. I can't imagine a title that better describes both the music at the heart of this novel as well as what it is to be a vulnerable, hopeful, and talented young musician than Struts and Frets. Jon Skovron's debut is, at turns, funny, sad, inspirational, and honest. And woven throughout is the music—driving Sammy and driving the story. Reviewer: Nate Phillips
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Music is the center of Sammy Bojar's world, despite his therapist mother's urging that he pursue a more profitable career and stable lifestyle. Though he is now sinking into dementia, Sammy's grandfather, a jazz musician, is still able to encourage his grandson to follow his dream: "You're like me…. Always reaching for the moon." When Sammy's band decides to enter a competition that could result in a chance to record in a real studio, he fluctuates between his extravagant dreams of rock-star fame and his nagging fear that the group is far from ready to perform. Meanwhile, he struggles with the realization that a longtime friend wants to be his girlfriend. When it becomes clear that their romance is about to become more physical, Jen5 responsibly blurts out a reminder not to "forget to…uh…go to the drugstore before you come over." The resulting hilarious scene in which Sammy is utterly baffled by the vast variety of condoms on display is just one of the narrative's many entertaining depictions of the turmoil of growing up. A playlist identifies the songs mentioned in the text, while a classroom scene in which Sammy's teacher reads aloud from Macbeth makes the origin of the book's title clear. This debut novel will find an audience not just with music fans, but also with those who appreciate a good coming-of-age story.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Though rehearsals haven't been smooth for Sammy Bojar's band, Tragedy of Wisdom, it appears to be his shot at becoming a legitimate musician. There's more drama than music in his life though: His grandfather suffers from increasing dementia, and Sammy has just started dating his best friend, Jen. As the band competition approaches, he finally starts changing the tempo of his life. Good character development and solid pacing keep readers involved with the narrative, which sometimes attempts to cover too much. Secondary adult characters receive more attention than Sammy's bandmates, leaving those supporting-character teens to languish somewhat. Skovron's musical influences fit nicely with the older indie teen reader, but these details will somewhat date the text. Sammy and Jen's romance nicely reflects a transitional relationship, and the author doesn't hide any of the difficulties involved in changing from friendship to dating. Deftly executed, this debut novel hits a few high notes and handily avoids falling flat. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 16 Years

Meet the Author

Jon Skovron is a music geek who can play nine instruments, but none of them well. This is his first novel. In his spare time, he writes technical manuals and tries to forget about his sordid past as an actor. He lives with his wife and two kids outside Washington, D.C. To learn more about him, the book, or the music, visit him at www.strutsandfretsbook.com.

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Struts & Frets 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Struts and Frets sammy a guitar. ending on the final note of, Find you dream and pursue it. I started reading Struts and Frets towards the end Even though I missed the first parts, I liked the book because Sammy could express his feelings. Sammy is the main character of the book. He is in a band called Tragedy of Wisdom with four other members. Jen5 is Sammy’s girlfriend. Joe is aggressive and a singer. Rick plays the bass. , and tj is the drummer Sammy’s grandpa attacks Sammy’s mom because he wasn't given any meds.It was a bad attack and she got a concussion and was put in a hospital. Sammy’s grandpa got sent to a nursing home. Sammy is a character who is building to his dream, but is being pushed around forcibly by outer forces. His mom tells him that he should take on a proper carrier instead of taking his musical talents out of the basement. Joe (the lead singer for the band) loses his girlfriend to T.J. and throws a big fit, after the fit he has to go to the hospital showing his weaker side to Sammy. An unspoken truth was at that point, he had left the band. Later in the book he calls Sammy back up to meet him at a club, they talk about things and Joe tries to fix what he did. In the end he is back in the band and they're all trying to win the battle of the bands for a position in the limelight. At the competition everything went downhill when Joe forgot his lines, he stopped in the middle of the song and shouted out to who knows how many people and their families the insecurities of each band member. Sammy, in a fit of rage, throws his guitar at Joe, ending the song and then leaves with fear, doubt, hate, and sadness in the air. Once he has cooled off he stops by Jen5’s house and talks with her dad. Her dad, hearing everything off the radio, talks with Sammy about a lot of things and gives
YoungMensanBookParade More than 1 year ago
Struts and Frets is your typical coming-of-age teen novel. Its central character, Samuel, struggles with the expectations of his mother and society as he tries to make it as a songwriter for a band just getting on its feet. The book does a good job of relating to kids who feel like outsiders, or to anyone wishing to follow a dream, but where it runs into trouble is the gap between subject matter and reading rigor. While at first glance this book looks like a great book for young pre-teens (and as such is suited to their reading level), the subject matter is more pertinent to older teens, and the language is at times profane. The problem with this is that the writing level is too basic to engage the older teens the content seems to be targeted at. For this reason I give the book two stars. Reviewed by Ryan P, Age 17
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought i wouldn't like this book coming from the point of view of a girl. I was wrong this book draws you in and keeps you turning pages until the very end. I really connected with characters, they were so real they could've been students in my own school. I almost know you will love this book and if not you'll learn about yourself or find some music you will enjoy listening to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stellarx1587 More than 1 year ago
Struts & Frets was new and fresh debut from Jon Skavron! I loved the character of our main character, Sammy Bojar. His passion for his love of music just screamed out from each page I read. This was a strong debut for sure and I'm excited to see what else Mr. Skavron has to offer!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters, fun read, nice story, very relatable book. I really enjoyed the experience. Perfect YA holiday gift! Glad I happened upon it!
Rosentiq More than 1 year ago
An earthy, earnest, and totally un-selfconscious voice in YA fiction, Jon Skovron's debut is both funny and heartfelt. Protagonist Sammy is trying his best to make his bad band happen, because more than anything, he just wants to play music. But he has to navigate an angry lead singer, his own stage fright, and his charming awkwardness as his best friend becomes his girlfriend. This is a unique coming of age story that's honest and tender, and sometimes laugh out loud funny. Highly recommended.