Saturday, May 25, 2019

ARC Review: String Boys by Amy Lane

String Boys
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.

Jewel's rating:

The Queen of Angst is back! If you're familiar with Amy Lane, then you know she likes to torture her MC's before she lets them have their HEA. String Boys is angst from beginning to end. Don't worry, though - Amy Lane gives these boys their happy ending.

String Boys is about growing up and figuring out life when so much is stacked against you. It's about family, both blood and found. It's about finding and keeping love against all odds.

Seth Arnold, Matty Cruz, and Matty's younger brother, Kelly, have been inseparable since grade school. Having been picked to learn how to play violins that were donated to the school, the boys were dubbed the school's string boys. While Matty and Kelly did ok, Seth found his soul. Music became Seth's entire life, sheltering him from life's many uncertainties, until he noticed Kelly -- really noticed him. After that, Seth's life was music and Kelly Cruz.

Unlike Seth, Kelly is not an only child. Kelly's household is chaotic in the best of ways. He has parents that love him, an older brother he looks up to, and younger sisters to help care for. He's loved Seth since before he knew he was gay. Where Seth has his music, Kelly has art. The only thing he really wants out of life, however, is his beautiful Seth. Kelly is a nurturer and Seth needs someone to take are of him. Not because he isn't capable, but because he gets so lost in his music, he tends to miss everything else. Everything, except Kelly.

String Boys covers a lot of years, from the time the boys are in grade school, until Seth is 25. We see them grow up into their own people. As children, they assumed they would all be together forever (ah the innocence of youth), but things change as they got older. Matty starts hanging with the wrong people and becomes someone filled with hate. But Seth and Kelly grow closer and discover the wonders of young love.

This book. Damn. There is so much uncertainty and more than a little tragedy in these pages. No one grows up innocent and they learn responsibility from a really young age. I loved String Boys but I've also got to say that the tone of sadness, throughout the book, did wear on me a bit. It made the story feel so long. They go through so much on their way to their happy, it's a wonder they managed. But that's kinda life, ya know? It's messy and uncertain and sometimes people you love don't change for the better and sometimes tragedy strikes. It's how we handle those tragedies and uncertainties that show us who we really are.

I also want to give a shout out to the cameos from Jackson Rivers and Ellery Cramer. I love their books and was happy to see them here. Don't worry, though, they don't steal any of the story from Seth or Kelly.

ARC of String Boys was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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