Written as a college entrance essay, The Scar Boys begins and ends with the friendship of Harbinger (Harry) and Johnny, in middle school, when Johnny calls a bully off of Harry and strikes up a conversation. Harry is surprised into a lasting friendship, mostly because few people talk to him, and he assumes it is because of the scars marring his face from almost being hit by lightning. The ensuing fire burned him badly.
Harry and Johnny’s friendship is nuanced and filled with moments that highlight Harry’s insecurity and sycophantic nature. The reader really gets into Harry’s head, and his is a fascinating mind. When Harry and Johnny form a punk band called The Scar Boys, Harry finds out how much music means to him, and how much it only passes the time for Johnny. Until the end, in which Harry proves the worth of music in a pivotal moment after a huge plot twist that works and fits the story.
Oh, and it’s set in the 80s, with a song from that era heading every chapter, so if you grew up in and around 80s music, this book will have an extra layer of goodness for you, though Len Vlahos‘s story is so good and well-told, anyone can love it.