Title: String Boys
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
Dreamspinner | Amazon
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.
If I’m in tears after reading this, what state must the talented Amy Lane be in? A wonderful tale of family and love, not simply a romance.
By the time I started this book, it was several weeks since I’d asked for an ARC and I’d forgotten the blurb, and it turns out that was the best way to read it. It was kind of busy (with characters and their lives and pasts and flaws) and kind of slow to get started and I wondered if I’d have the patience to finish it, as it is a l-o-n-g book and it spans nearly 10 years of the leads’ lives, and it’s not an easy read, but OMG did it draw me in. And involve my heart in many ways.
It’s a really hard tale to review without spoiling it, so I’ll tell you that it has lots of love in it. Beautiful love. Innocent love. True love, the stuff of young, romantic dreams that just grows and deepens. Flawed love; flawed love that loves truly and tries to make up for the things that being human and being flawed makes you do. Ugly love; the kind of love that comes from when you are basically a decent person who’s lost his way and end up with the wrong person, the wrong beliefs, the wrong influences, but which has a chance of turning into a beautiful love again. Older love, a chance at a second love, when you’ve loved and lost and think you won’t love again, but then you see someone in a different light and see the love that’s been hidden. Unselfish, unconditional love from someone who at times didn’t quite come across as belonging to this earth. Tough love, so tough that I wondered if I’d be able to be as strong and determined if I were in that position of having to be tough. There was lots of love, for and from a lot of people, family and not, and who formed a whole, huge, extended family because of love.
And it has happiness and sadness, the latter in spades. So much sadness that I did wonder if things would ever look brighter and be brighter, but Amy Lane pulled it off. I liked that the tale wasn’t heavy on all things music/musical prodigy, as that would’ve pulled me out of the tale by skipping parts. I liked that though Seth and Kelly both lost their innocence – in different ways – they still believed in each other and what they meant to each other. There’s some horrible, horrible brutality in this tale and though it’s not told in the acts themselves, the author’s words in the aftermath make you hurt for the boys. And the physical separations take their toll, too.
It’s not what I’d call a great tale, as it’s depressing, which is not a criticism, and sad and not something that I will be able to read again any time soon, but it’s an excellent tale with heart and it will involve your heart and mind. It’s a tale that I’m really glad I read.
One thing that hit me as an Asian reader and a sensitivity reader for several authors, is the way in which the leads and their families’ backgrounds and races were described. It felt as if the author tried too hard to be neutral/not offensive/politically correct in trying to make the leads visual in readers’ minds, by talking about their racial mixes, colour of skin, hair, how names could be interpreted and assumptions made, etc. For me, rather than add ethnicity and authenticity to the tale, it distracted because it was too full-on and felt inorganic. If I’m not mistaken, the author got knocked a few years back about an issue to do with race and colour, and I got the impression that that’s influenced her descriptions. If so, she shouldn’t try so hard, as it just took me out of the tale each time that she went into TMI with her descriptions; for me, less would have been more, as I ended up with unclear visuals in my head, which distracted. In fact, I think I blocked the ethnicity out of my mind, which in hindsight, is a pity.
But, it was a really, really good read. Just have a few hours to spare as you won’t want to put this book down, and have plenty of tissues and a cat or human to cuddle.
ARC courtesy of Dreamspinner Press and Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure.
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