Tuesday, October 13, 2015

REVIEW: Breakout by Kevin Emerson

Anthony Castillo is pretty much like any angst ridden rocker.  He's fed up with the constraints of day-to-day life and wishes that he could 'breakout' from under the thumb of those constantly telling him how to live his life.  The only difference between Anthony and other rockers is the fact that he's still an eighth grader. He's tired of being told what to do by his parents (be healthy!), his teachers (do your work!) and his administrators (tow the line!).  What he really wants to do is focus on his band, the Rusty Soles, their musical debut at the school's Art Night, and play the latest version of Liberation Force with his best friend, Keenan.  Unfortunately, like for any teenager, if seems as if life is out to get him.

The countdown to Art Night is less than two weeks away when disaster strikes and the Rust Soles lose their singer.  When emotion gets the best of him, Anthony pens and mixes an angsty anthem, which when posted online, surges in popularity and quickly becomes garners some worldwide buzz. The song's sentiment of feeling trapped resonates with other listeners and Anthony and his friends quickly find themselves elevated to small time celebrity status.

Excited to play "Breakout" for Art Night, the true challenge becomes whether the song's blatant language should be allowed. While parents and administrators require censorship, Anthony is conflicted.  The band and their fans plan the ultimate act of rebellion; however, Anthony is uncertain if he will have the guts to go through with it.

The characterization and themes are realistic, poignant and relevant. I liked Anthony quite a bit.  He is very much like the type of eighth graders I've encountered over the years.  He is certainly flawed but shows great potential since he is so young and is learning about finding his place in the world and shouldering extreme feelings with the notion of taking responsibility for his actions. The supporting cast of characters are solid as well both as protagonists and necessary antagonists.

I enjoyed the greater thematic discussion of censorship.  Emerson introduces the issue from both sides.  On one hand, the administration has a point regarding language and target audience. On the other hand, Anthony's lyrics were written with emotion and intent rather than for shocking effect. The outcome of Art Night illustrates that sometime we fail or don't live up to expectations but there in life and rock 'n' roll there is always another performance.

The recommended reading age is grades 7 and up.  I would recommend for purchase for public and school libraries.  The target audience is for those interested in realistic fiction and who are feeling the 'growing up' blues.  This is certainly also recommended for music lovers or anyone who enjoyed Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, Road Rash by Mark Huntley Parsons or This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars


#breakout #music #YAlit #review #teenangst #censorship