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Author: Angela Clarke
A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Max Coburn. A foster boy with bad luck and a rebellious attitude that constantly gets him into trouble. It forces him to be street smart and it’s a guarantee - Max never calls any foster placement home. After falsely being accused of a drug charge his counselor places him in rural Beedy Village to live on a farm. Forced to exist in a small town mentality against his will and feeling betrayed the city boy tries to make the ‘farm family’ nervous by trying to intimidate them; his goal is to get back to the city as fast as he can. The unforeseen reality is his foster parents Gin and Jacob Castle have already raised twelve teenage foster boys and know the score with street-smart Max.Spring Jammin' is the first installment in author Angela Clarke's Band Together series. I was approached by Angela back in January to review her book and I even got the opportunity to meet her in person and have a really inspiring conversation with her. We talked about a variety of topics related to her series and I'm honoured to say that I got a rare in-depth look into the mind of an author who's looking to make a difference with her novels. To this day when I think back to our meeting, I can't help but smile and reflect on the many pieces of wisdom and advice she gave me that night. With all that being said, the point I'm trying to make is that I was extremely excited to read Spring Jammin' and I am so glad to say that it's as inspiring as the woman who wrote it!
In the past, when he wasn’t recuperating from broken ribs in a street fight, Max hung out at a deli and strummed his thoughts to music but his guitar was stolen in the city. Now with nothing to do on the farm Max thinks he’s going to hide out in his room, ignore the family and deliberately have no friends.
Things don’t go as planned. On his first day at school the notorious bully masterminds a fight to challenge him. But being bullied is something Max Coburn knows a lot about and when his foster sister and her friends try to stop the bully from going after Max they all get caught in an illegal mess.
Spring Jammin' deals with a large variety of teen issues, but has an especial focus on bullying. I'm not going to lie, typically I'm not attracted to books like Spring Jammin', but when I read the synopsis and found out how large of a theme music was in the series, I was captivated and immediately intrigued. Max Coburn is a teenage boy who has been shipped from foster home to foster home, to the point where you almost get the sense that he's given up and lost a lot of hope. Although Max is a male protagonist, I was able to find a part of him that I could really relate to-- his passion for music. Max doesn't just love music, it's an escape for him much like it sometimes is for me. This connection, as well as his character growth and increasingly developed vulnerability, really allowed me to feel for him throughout the entire novel. Max is a victim in more ways than one and we as the reader get a first-hand look as to what that must be like.
Spring Jammin' is no doubt Max's story, but that doesn't mean it's in only his POV. There isn't just one person's thought in a chapter, there can be numerous thoughts given to us by a variety of different characters within a scene/chapter. Although I could appreciate getting small glimpses into different characters' minds, I will say that at times it can be a little confusing if you're not 100 percent focused on what you're reading.
Another point I'd like to make is how Angela doesn't just focus on the victim's story (in this case Max's) but she also shows us what it's like to be in the bully's shoes. It's easy to look at the bully as an outsider looking in and immediately classify him as a just a mean person. However through Neddie's character, I was once again reminded that usually when someone turns to bullying, someone or something has darken them enough to bring them to that point of wanting to inflict pain on others-- Similar to the idea, 'If I'm going down, I'm taking you down with me.' Reading both the victim and bully's perspectives really makes you feel sympathy for all of the characters, making Spring Jammin' a book layered and layered with all kinds of emotions.
The title for the series, Band Together, could not be a better name! In addition to the theme of bullying, the idea of becoming stronger by trusting and coming together with your friends and family is a message that really comes across in Spring Jammin'. Through Max's new friends and family, we really get to see that being strong doesn't always mean holding things in, it means opening yourself up to those that are around you. You should pull strength from those that care about you, not hide from them-- a message I'm sure some of us need to be reminded of sometimes when we feel alone.
"A little paint won't change the tune, besides, I've never seen instruments glow in the dark before."
Max sat down on the edge of the trailer. "No!"
"Oh come on," she sat beside him, "don't be afraid to be original."
"I'm not afraid of anything, Vienna Castle. i just won't strum an acoustic guitar that glooows in the dark."
Roy yanked his hair. "It's just a chunk of warped wood, Coburn."
"Well, it's my chunk of warped wood- Patterson."
"Didn't you trust Jacob when you married him?"
"Heavens no, I thought he was nuts. He used to joke about everything."
"But how could you marry someone you didn't trust, Gin?"
"I fell in love and I want nuts too."
"They don't turn you into anything. It's you who urns you into something or nothing. It doesn't matter if you come froma biological family or a foster family. You still have the choice to be a successful man or a loser. the decision is yours Coburn- yours alone."
Overall, Spring Jammin' was an emotional read with great messages I think every teenager and/or adult can benefit from. Although I talked a lot about the heavier sides of this novel, there's lots of funny and light hearted moments as well that make Spring Jammin' a real feel-good book. I highly recommend this novel to anyone , and I do mean anyone, who may be experiencing a similar situation as Max or just wants to be inspired by a meaningful story with great lessons. Will you be reading Spring Jammin'? What do you turn to when your feeling down (other than books of course :P)?! Be sure to let me know in the comments below! Keep Reading!
Your Y.A. Bookworm,