Stringz by Michael Wenberg
Publisher: Westside Books
Age Recommendation: (12+)
Length: Full Length (216 pgs)
Rating: 5 suns
Reviewed by Cholla
Life hasn t been easy for Jace Adams, a mixed-race teen whose mom moves them from one place to another so often that sometimes he's been in four schools in a single year. To cope with all that instability, Jace has vowed to never let himself get attached to anyone or anything--other than his beloved cello. But when his mom takes them to Seattle, where they're living with tough, sassy Aunt Bernice, Jace wonders if this time things might really change. Because money is tight, Jace plays his cello on the street in downtown Seattle, and one evening, someone throws a folded $100 bill with a business card attached into Jace s open cello case while he's serenading. That card changes everything; it's from a famous cello instructor who offers to take him on, giving Jace a shot at winning a large cash prize. Will he make the grade?
When life deals you a rotten hand, do you lie down and die? Or do you stand up and fight for what’s right? Jace Adams, for one, has had enough of the lying down and is ready to try his hand at the standing and fighting. Despite all that is staring him in the face, his only concern is to change the course his life has been following and make it his own for the first time in his young life.
When we meet Jace, he’s withdrawn and a bit sullen. His only friend is his cello, the only thing in his life he can constantly count on to never let him down. He and his mother have just resettled, again, and this newest move lands them in Seattle. His promise to remain invisible deteriorates on the very first day of school when he rescues a very expensive violin from an imminent demise. From that moment on, he discovers that certain people in this new school refuse to let him fade into the background. Slowly but surely, Jace’s new friends help pull him out of his shell and an amazing transformation takes place.
The changes that overcome Jace are amazing. I have long believed in the power of music to overcome obstacles, and this novel furthers my belief in just that. When he lets down his walls and allows his two music-loving friends inside, the combination of the music and the support of someone close transform his entire world. Even his cranky Aunt Bernice begins to see him differently. I loved Jace from the very beginning, but the young man he is becoming by the end of the novel is even more lovable and enjoyable than the person he started out as.
With a little love, a lot of support and a handful of luck, we can all change our fortunes in life. I think that was the main message I got from this story. Jace goes from feeling like he’s worth nothing to no one and winds up realizing that he is an important part of many people’s lives with the added benefit of amazing musical talent. Hand in hand with his new friends and newfound confidence, he pushes forward to make a new life. An inspirational and engaging story for readers of all ages!