4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Tears and Trombones by Nanci Lee Woody, based on a true story, focuses on the life of a poor young boy, navigating his love for music, living in a time where a career in the arts was thought of as a joke. With the death of the protagonist’s father being the introductory scene, the book captures the reader’s attention just a page in. The plot, beginning in 1943, keeps you hooked as the life of an aspiring musician in times of war, unfolds in front of your eyes.
Young Joey, with his newfound love of the trombone, struggles to maintain a balance between his passion for music and the expectation for him to follow in his father’s footsteps as a construction worker. Living in an abusive household in a world that is not very accepting of his passion, he finds light within his mother, his biggest anchor. Fueled by the love of his mother, he aspires to be the best, to make her sacrifices for him worthwhile, and to prove his worth to his drunkard of a father.
Having witnessed abuse his entire life, he vows to be different, to be a man of honor, respect and integrity. However, he manages to steer along two women who love him, and becomes the very thing he vowed not to be. Growing up, he finds himself stepping into his father’s shoes more than once. The protagonist’s frustratingly flawed life choices add depth to the character, as we see him grow from a humble trombonist to a man who seemingly has no choice. Despite admiring him for his strength and determination, readers will grow to dislike many aspects of this complex character, throughout this tale of beautiful symphonies and heartbreaking climaxes.
Woody’s intensive knowledge of music makes for more real and authentic imagery, and maintains the reader’s interest by touching on the reality of the life of a musician. The story also makes for a great antagonist; an abusive, controlling, insensitive husband and father. Through Joey’s mixed feelings about his father, readers go through a whirlwind of emotions, as we see the innocent young boy with a love for his trombone, turn into the very thing he hates.
I would rate this story 4 out of 4 stars for its beautiful character development, and the way it deals with important issues such as sexism, abuse and the patriarchal nature of society. Through tears, trombones, songs and symphonies, Woody conveyed a brilliant plot with multi-dimensional, complex characters that will surely leave an impact on the reader.
With that said, I would recommend young adults, of sixteen and older, to read this book, as it contains mature sexual content and uncountable instances of non-borderline profanity. Young adults may relate to the themes explored in the book, as well as the struggles faced by a boy of a tender age. The book was very clearly, professionally edited, and I could not personally find any flaws in the plot (or otherwise) of this extremely realistic tale of a boy who was forced to grow up too fast. I would also like to include a trigger warning for anyone sensitive to the topic of sexual assault, as the book includes instances of such nature.
Tears and Trombones
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon