Eighth grader Terence Kato transfers to public Franklin Middle School with trepidation and low expectations. In the span of a few short months, Terence’s mother died, his father started spending most of his time in bed, they moved out of their home, and Terence had to leave his private school friends and jazz quintet behind. Terence knows that a new band might be the only way to make his time at Franklin bearable, so he sets out to put together the perfect sound. His only rule? No friends. For Terence, friends mean connection and sympathy, two things he’d rather avoid. But bonds form as the band comes together, reminding Terence that friendship isn’t weakness but strength. Brezenoff (Guy in Real Life) touches on many concerns and stresses in Terence’s life, including his father’s depression, being bullied, and his elitist attitude toward the arts program at Franklin, but they aren’t explored deeply and are resolved fairly neatly. Even so, the disaffected tone of the narration nicely mirrors Terence’s angst, and his friendship with the band’s vocalist, Meredith “Eddie” Carson, is well developed. Ages 9–12. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Sept.)
Correction: An earlier version of this review listed the incorrect literary agent.
Reviewed on: 07/03/2017 Release date: 09/01/2017 Genre: Children's