Author: M. J. Beaufrand
Released: May 12th 2015
Length: 288 pages
Source: Publisher for review
The Book Depository
In Portland in 1983, girls are disappearing. Noah, a teen punk with a dark past, becomes obsessed with finding out where they've gone—and he's convinced their disappearance has something to do with the creepy German owners of a local brewery, the PfefferBrau Haus. Noah worries about the missing girls as a way of avoiding the fact that something's seriously wrong with his best friend, Evan. Could it be the same dark force that's pulling them all down?When the PfefferBrau Haus opens its doors for a battle of the bands, Noah pulls his band, the Gallivanters, back together in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. But there's a new addition to the band: an enigmatic David Bowie look-alike named Ziggy. And secrets other than where the bodies are buried will be revealed. From Edgar-nominated author M. J. Beaufrand, this is a story that gets to the heart of grief and loss while also being hilarious, fast paced, and heartbreaking.
I’ve seen this book labeled as paranormal. It is not. I’ve seen it described as confusing and unexciting. It is not. Taking this book at face value is a grave mistake. It is, however, filled with symbolism, allegory and metaphors. This novel isn’t your average, everyday read. It’s something truly special, and as such, it will easily find the hearts of its true audience.
Beaufrand allows Noah to tell us his own story, but Noah’s mind is full of mysteries and monsters, missing girls and frightening fogs. He is more than happy to turn the spotlight on his best friend Evan, a modest, kind boy, a sidekick by nature if ever there was one. Noah and Evan have depended upon each other since they were just boys, and together they survived disasters, abuse, suicidal parents and hospitals. They made it thanks to each other and their music.
With tragedy behind him and tragedy on the horizon, Noah’s past and present painfully collide, and it’s far more than he can handle. In a desperate attempt to put his world to rights, he decides to re-form the Gallivanters, his failed punk band. The goal is to create a demo and enter a contest to play at a famous brewery, which happens to be the place where more than twenty girls disappeared.
Noah wants to be a musician and a knight, but even more, he wants Evan to be both. For a kid who is supposedly a self-centered troublemaker, he does very little for himself. Beaufrand delves deep into Noah's psyche by subtly showing us consequences of constant, horrible abuse, by giving us glimpses of a masochistic personality, and miraculously shaping it all into a character we can’t help but love. I am in awe.*
Be patient with this book. Be kind to it when it seems confusing and strange. Give it time, be tolerant, and the book will give back to you tenfold. This is quite easily my favorite book this year, a quiet sort of beauty that might, just might, go tragically unnoticed. Some of the best things are, though, and I’ll always feel extremely lucky to have stumbled upon this gem.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions exspressed in this review.
*Just writing this review, thinking intensely about the beauty of this book, made me cry like a baby.