The Lords of Melody by Phillip Gwynne
Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143796459.
(Age: 10-14) Recommended. Themes: Music; Rock and Roll; Bands; Ghosts; Family. Suzi Lord, from Melody Street is the youngest of the Lord family, and it appears that she is the only one who has no musical talent. Her parents were once famous Rock and Roll stars . . . until an undisclosed but unable-to-be-forgotten 'incident' upset their career. Her sister Janis seems to have inherited considerable musical talent, but her aspirations are to live a life out of the shadow of her parents' slide into mediocrity and poor pecuniary circumstances. There is also the shadow of the Uncle, the drummer from her parents' band, who died some time ago but is not really missed. Suzi, however, has found a new pathway in her life away from hard rock - on the soccer field - until an accident changes her direction and gives her opportunity to follow a new drumbeat. The spectral visit of her uncle, the unusual lengths to which Janis will go in order to raise money and the rather strange relationships that the 'old' rockers have with the neighbours in Melody Street all combine to create a fun and entertaining story with a musical thread, and with genuine family connections. The chance to compete in a music contest is fraught with difficulty.
Phillip Gwynne has created an amusing tale with characters that have unique qualities and weird solutions to their problems. The quirkiness of the setting in the run-down home of the 'retired' Rockers, amidst the rebuilt mega-homes that line their street, is just a delight. You can almost smell the decline in the Lord home! This is a fun tale, with unlikely characters connecting and belting out tunes - sometimes melodious! The comparison between the 'wealthy' Private School attendees and the other kids in the book makes a statement, but with much humour. And there is a ghostly influence to push Suzi in a direction that she might otherwise have avoided. Suzi's voice is cynical and lightly sarcastic, and it is wonderful to see her family through her eyes. The book has a humorous lilt, but it is also lightly addressing the influence of money and fame. The cover of this book could perhaps deter some older readers, but this could be enjoyed by teen readers as well as pre-teens.