String Boys – Amy Lane
REVIEWERS: SHE SAID – GLORIA LAKRITZ / SHE SAID – MELISSA BRUS
Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento.
Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain.
Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands.
Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.
GLORIA LAKRITZ – SHE SAID:
Oh my, where do I start? I have never forgotten for all my years of reading this authors books; her teasing title Angst and Pain is Amy Lane. Those early days when killing Adrian in Greenshill, and the Promise Rock series uggggh……too many in that series to mention; but her readers remember. These are the stories that stay with you, a more recent was Chase in the Shadows, The Bells of Time Square….magic moments! Now again we are reminded that Amy Lane wields her pen like a knife and slays you with her words.
I am still bereft of thought as I sit down after just finishing String Boys, and maybe I should wait a day or two to let the feelings sit. But, something is forcing me to share this experience with you …now….while I still feel!
Seth, Matty and Kelly are childhood friends, growing up in a poorer side of town, living in a fourplex. The school has gotten a donation of violins and the recipients are named The String Boys. Seth shines, he flies away in music, finding the violin cathartic to his soul. He might not remember to eat, or forgets to tie his shoes but one thing he hears and that is Kelly Cruz.
Kelly is an artist, but he plays the violin just so he can be with Seth. He has been in love with him since forever. It is not until one day when Seth stares down at Kelly sleeping does he realize something different and as Kelly looks up at him he sees ‘the look’ and breathes a sigh of relief….saying Thank God you ‘finally’ see me!!!
Our author has different plans for their future, which before she dropped the bomb would have been a good book. But the unimaginable happens and the stories turn becomes a reader’s nightmare and changes from a good book to a great book! You just cannot put it down,
Amy you have done it again!!! Not enough wine and tissues for this read. Truly a wonderful piece.
MELISSA BRUS – SHE SAID:
Seth Arnold is only truly present when he is talking to Kelly Cruz or playing his violin. His heart is full of those two elements. That heart is so big. It loves and cares for those around him in such an all encompassing manner. Otherwise he tends to seem like hi head is in the clouds. He forgets to eat if not reminded. He can’t be bothered to remember to put on decent clothes even when he owns them. But put his violin in his hands, and then he is transcendent. He shines. Put him in Kelly’s hands and the same thing happens.
Kelly Cruz has loved Seth his whole life. He is a talented artist in his own right. Kelly’s family is both his biggest strength and the biggest thing keeping him from belonging to Seth. Kelly is such a great soul. He is first to give what he can to those that depend on him. It is his strength of character that is so amazing to me.
Then one moment. One thing happens. And it means Seth can’t come home. But Kelly can’t leave. And they have to decide if they should walk away.
There are special books that stay with you. The characters find their way into your heart. It’s a book hangover in the absolute best way. This is one of those books. If I could have read it all in one sitting I would have. As it was, I warned my family when I was about halfway through that this was a book I was finishing TONIGHT! I had to. I had to find out what was going to happen to Kelly and Seth. It was imperative. These boys. Amy Lane introduces us to them in elementary school. We watch them grow up together. We watch their love grow up. These two boys had me cheering for them. They had me crying my eyes out. They had me finishing their story and clutching the book to my chest for a minute. Even now, as I write this review, I am finding myself getting emotional. It is understandable why books like this only happen every once in a while. There is no way an author could get this much onto a page on a regular basis. This story is such a gift. String boys is definitely one of those reads that require the tissues in close proximity. If you are new to Amy Lane, you are starting with an amazing jewel. If you are a fan of Amy Lane, you are getting one of her best and finest. Plus there may be a cameo or two from another of her amazing stories. I really just want to scream READ THIS!! You will not be disappointed.
Melissa Brus and I reviewed String Boys for PRG.
Before we begin, we must tell you the effect you had on both of us reading this story…How epic it was. Here are our questions.
1-One thing I love most about your characters is that they are not all good or all evil. Is that a conscious choice?
Ms. Lane: Absolutely—people are rarely all good or all bad. One of the things we’ve learned over the last few millennia is that monsters are almost always made, not born. Hatred and bitterness are such a terrible burden to carry—learning to forgive the person who wronged us is one of our greatest steps towards being the best we can be. So that thread of combined good and evil is pretty prevalent in my work—romance is about having hope, and that hope extends to everybody.
2-How did these Characters come to be?
Ms. Lane: I went to a recital for two of my children in a place much like the one described in the opening chapter. People assume that because I’m white and my children are practically neon pink, that our local schools are affluent and white. They are not. A tiny woman with twin white braids wrapped around her head was introduced by the principal who said that this woman had come into nine violins. She’d paid to have them refurbished and had gifted them to the music department on the condition that she be allowed to teach nine willing students to play.
The nine students happened to be boys—and they called them String Boys.
Now, knowing the way my school district works—and hearing stories from my own kids about how the fourth grade that year was mostly boys and they were giving their teachers fits—I had some speculation about how those kids ended up standing up and playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My oldest daughter used to get pulled out of her math class that was a complete zoo because the teacher felt sorry for her and her two friends because they actually wanted to learn math, and I imagined these kids being the good ones. “Hey, kid—I’ll get you out of your nightmare math class if you humor this sweet little old lady and don’t wreck this newly refurbished violin.”
And wouldn’t it be amazing if one of those boys turned out to be made for the violin? That the violin not only saved his life but changed the lives of the people around him?
That’s how this story came to be.
3-After you get a story like this on the page, what do you do to recharge??
Ms. Lane: In this case, I started Paint it Black. But I have to admit, I looked forward to every edit—Seth and Kelly did not leave me alone for months. But I try to balance books like this—I do love writing me a short sweet category romance to perk up my heart a little.
4-As a reader these are the books that give the best kind of book hangover, do you get the same effect writing it?
Ms. Lane: Oh my God yes. I cried with every revision. I felt this one in my soul, like in writing it I had done something really wonderful. Of course, now that it’s getting close to release day, I worry—what if I screwed this up somehow? What if the wrong choice of words in any part of it leads people to focus on that one mistake and not on the real joy of these two kids finding their way when the world looks damned hard. I wanted so badly to do justice to these characters. So, yeah. A book hangover first, an anxiety attack later.
5-Seeing the cameos in this book were so amazing. Does this mean we get to see a Kelly and Seth again as well?
Ms. Lane: They get a mention at the beginning of the next Fish book—but I think they’ll be like Xander and Chris, and Jared Emory as well. Seth Arnold is now a household name in Amy-land. We’ll see them a lot.
6- What is next on your upcoming agenda?
Ms. Lane: Well right now I’m writing Fall into Spring, the conclusion of the Rec League Soccer series that started with Winter Ball. It’s Dane and Carpenter’s story, and it’s particularly challenging because Dane and Carpenter both have such huge obstacles to overcome, but this isn’t supposed to be an angsty book. The first two books in this series were really sweet—I needed to keep this one sweet as well, and that’s been a tough balancing act.