Insta Review: Guitar Notes, by Mary Amato

Insta Review gives you a new book recommendation in under a minute. Go ahead, time it! 

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I picked up Guitar Notes on a quest to find a good book about non-musical theater music performance and theory for my middle school musicians. (What a difficult topic to find – if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!) In Guitar Notes, aquaintences Layla and Tripp are forced to trade off on a school practice room by days of the week. When cello prodigy Layla finds that free-spirit Tripp has left trash in the practice room, she writes him a passive aggressive note – and an unexpected friendship begins. Guitar Notes was easy to read and checked all of the boxes – music theory, struggling prodigy feeling misunderstood, friendship, self discovery, humor, drama. Its format switches between regular prose, texts, emails, notes, and even songs, which adds interest to the story. There’s a lot happening very quickly in the pages, and some of it falls flat – Layla’s domineering best friend Annie, for example, never becomes much more than a two-dimensional plot progressor – but there’s enough there to keep things moving. Older middle grade and young YA readers will love the drama in Layla’s life, Tripp’s sarcasm, and the budding relationship between the two (is it a friendship story or an innocent romance? I’m still not quite sure). As a bonus, as Layla learns the guitar, the book gives some solid information for readers looking to learn, including how to read tablature, blues patterns, waltz time signatures, etc. And every song that Layla and Tripp write together appears, complete with tabs, in a songbook featured in the back of the book for musical readers to recreate. Guitar Notes will fill a hole in our collection, and I’m already thinking about the waitlist of students that will reach for it when it arrives. #stabsummerreading

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