cover image After the Wallpaper Music

After the Wallpaper Music

Jean Mills. Pajama, $18.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-77278-322-3

During the day, eighth grader Flora plays violin with her longtime friends in the Arden String Quartet; her evenings are devoted to learning Newfoundland fiddle music from Auntie Flora, her elderly namesake. When Simon DeLuca joins her class following a tragedy befalling his famous rock star family, Flora can’t help but pay attention to the newcomer, a rarity in her small town. But he’s standoffish when her friends try to welcome him. Simultaneously, Flora struggles to feel enthusiastic about the announcement of a local Battle of the Bands competition, even when her friends choose to perform a video game piece she enjoys. A gradual show of friendship from Simon, though—and his exciting request that she join his band to play her violin in a new retro rock style—creates conflicts with her friends. And then Auntie Flora is hospitalized. Mills (Bliss Adair and the First Rule of Knitting) employs a cozy writing style that is both breezy and immersive. Poignant life lessons and a focus on the emotions evoked by music permeate this soulful novel; a playlist at the end includes all referenced pieces. Flora and Simon read as white. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)