Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publication date: May 28, 2019
Length: 341 pages
Reviewed by Erin
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.
Like so many of you, early on in my reading of LGBTQ focused books (before then, I happily admit I was a fanfiction addict … along with some mainstream fiction), I discovered Amy Lane. The Locker Room to be specific. To this day, that book remains in my top five, all-time favorite books, of any book, ever. Since then, I’ve devoured every book Amy has ever written. Paranormal, fluffy, angst and pain laden; it doesn’t matter which world or what topic she focuses on, she never lets me down and her newest book, String Boys, didn’t either. If you’ve read The Locker Room, and if you haven’t I’m not sure we can be friends, String Boys is very reminiscent of that book. The same love, the same hope and joy, the same pain and turmoil … just in a very different way. I read String Boys in one sitting; I literally could not stop reading. And yes, I cried, many times as a matter of fact. But oh my, was the payoff ever worth it!
String Boys begins when Kelly Cruz and Seth Arnold are just young boys in the fourth grade and follows them through ups and many, MANY downs. This is an Amy Lane book we’re talking about here people, and yeah, this one hurts, and the angst is high. These boys endure SO MUCH—from homophobia, to bullies, to numerous separations, to religious zealots, to violence (that mostly takes place off page, thank goodness!)—that my heart wept, and my need for continuous Kleenex was at an all-time high. I never once worried that Seth and Kelly wouldn’t make it; their love for one another was just too powerful for that to ever happen, but boy did Amy make them work for it (and us readers, too, because damn.)
The only thing Seth loves almost as much as he loves Kelly is his violin and the way Amy uses the music to allow Seth to grow and make his place in the world is nothing short of beautiful. I was moved so much by Seth’s thoughts and feelings about his music and the ability to transport him, and those that hear him play, into another world. It’s magical, no lie. And dear sweet, lovable Kelly is simply wonderful. I’m not going to spoil the story for you, the blurb gives you a great idea what you’re in for and really, String Boys is a journey. It’s a journey that takes you from the innocence of youth, to the harsh realities of the world around us. It’s a story that centers on family and acceptance and love. The love of music and the importance of finding that one thing that makes your soul fill with joy and gives you a sense of peace. The love of family that gives you the safety and acceptance you need to figure out who you are. And most importantly, the power of first love that turns into that once in a lifetime love that can weather any storm.
Be prepared, y’all. This book will hit you in ALL your feels. There’s tragedy and loss, pain and suffering, and the fact that life is not always fair or easy. But there is so much hope and joy and love that it makes every tear and every bit of heartache worth it. Don’t miss String Boys, this book is special, and I can’t recommend it enough.
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