June 2004

Finding salvation in music

By Tim Bowler
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Luke’s father died two years ago, and since then his life has gone down the tubes. He feels as if everything is falling apart: he’s doing poorly in school, he’s drifting apart from his mother, and he’s gone so far as to get mixed up with the town’s lowlife characters Skin, Speedy and Daz. The story opens with a plan to break into Mrs. Little’s house and steal the box the trio has spied through the window, figuring it must contain something valuable. But when 14-year-old Luke climbs a tree and goes in through an upstairs window, he finds more than anyone expected and something he must keep from Skin and his cohorts, knowing full well that noncompliance with Skin can be deadly. Music is at the heart of Luke’s very being, as it had been for his dad, too. He is a musical genius, an accomplished pianist and he hears sounds, a whole cacophony of sounds of mysterious origin a girl weeping, bells and chords and deep rumbling sound. It is his ability with music that finds, quite literally and mystically, a sympathetic chord with Natalie, the strange little girl he finds in Mrs. Little’s house. She is blind and has the mind of a four-year-old, but she responds to the music Luke plays. As Luke becomes her savior and listens to the music of his being, he realizes the loving presences in his life and finds a way to confront Skin and his gang. Tim Bowler’s writing, like that of David Almond, is intricate, lyrical and poetic, infused with magic realism, a prose style that perfectly matches the theme of the firmament the celestial bodies, the music of the spheres, heaven in the universe and within ourselves. And as Luke regains his life, he regains his music. This is one of those books that pulls you in right from the start, spurring you to race ahead and see what happens next, but it’s so nicely written that readers will also relish the well-crafted prose. Bowler has created a compelling story with much to say about loss, love and the affirmation of life.

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By Tim Bowler
ISBN 9780689861611

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