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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Teens, Jazz, and the 1950s

Title: Sky
Author: Roderick Townley

Publisher and/or Distributor: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publisher Website:
Pages: 266
ISBN: 0-689-85712-8
Price: $16.95
Publishing Date: 2004
Reader: Bob Spear
Rating: 5 hearts

This superb young adult book takes on several age appropriate conflict themes. Alec “Sky” Schuyler is fifteen going on thirty. Attending high school in New York City in the 1950s is a challenge, especially when one is seeking to become a competent jazz musician, keep a low profile at school, win the heart of a cute girl, support an incompetent father while putting up with his unreasonable demands, and figure out which life path to take. Sky and his father escalate their conflict to the level where Sky runs away from home while continuing to complete school assignments. Life is further complicated by a male teacher’s inappropriate advances on Sky’s girl friend. Fortunately, help comes from a reluctant mentor in the form of a genius blind jazz pianist who takes on Sky as a special project.

The author has brought to life the core emotions of all these conflicts and manages to bring them to resolution with the artistry of a symphony conductor. For those of us who lived this timeframe and had an interest in the jazz scene of those years, this story is especially poignant. For the young target audience, it opens a window onto another reality. This is an ideal book for reluctant readers and for gifted readers. We rated it five hearts.

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