The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

The Scar Boys - Len Vlahos

I’m completely dumbfounded. On Goodreads Scar Boys has a rating of only 3.77. (The way I read Goodreads ratings, a greater than 4.00 score is best, unless like 10,000 people have read and rated it and then a higher than 3.7 score is acceptable, because the curve is greater.) Scar Boys only has 1220 ratings, so in my head that is not a great score. I would hesitate to read the book, and I DID hesitate to read it. I was turned off.

Well, mud in my face! I must have a different copy of Scar Boys because what I read was actually pretty darn amazing. I’ve read better, of course, but this was definitely worth more than 3 stars. I think it’s worth 4.5 stars.

I can only imagine that people were looking for something… more profound? Or possibly more romantic? Scar Boys definitely wasn’t a romance story. I did think it was pretty profound, though. See, there were two stories going on here. First, there was the story of Harry and the Lightning. The first couple chapters were really hard to read, as a mother. The terror, the grief… wondering how the hell you would help your 8 year old through the horror of what happened. It was killer. So, you had the story of Harry and the years of learning how to feel alive again, and how he learns to cope with life covered in scars. Maybe it was this story that people were disappointed with? Harry was depressing, but then he was tied to a tree that caught fire. That’s pretty brutal. I can understand that. I actually liked Harry, and I really liked the relationships that Harry had even before meeting Johnny. I liked Harry and Dr. Kenny. I didn’t find this part of the story disappointing, but it definitely wasn’t what made me read Scar Boys in a day and wonder why I got something deeper out of this book than others.

For me, the best part of the book was the complicated friendship between Harry and Johnny. We got this entire story from Harry’s perspective, of course. It’s his essay. He has all these antagonistic feelings for his best friend. We read all these situations and times where Johnny is a dick… but what would happen if we got to read Johnny’s essay? How easy would it be to go through middle school, high school, and longer, with a friend who is emotionally unstable. At the end Harry questions how good of a friend he was to Johnny. That’s profound. The truth is that everyone else isn’t always the asshole, sometimes we are too. It’s what comes after those moments that’s important.

So I guess, it’s obvious. I liked this book. I liked it a heck of a lot and I wish I had read it a long time ago so I could have argued the reasons why more people should give it a chance. I also wouldn’t mind a Scar Boys CD. So there.

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