Neil plays guitar with his family's band, the Family McClintock, even though he can't stand the Celtic music they play, he doesn't dance, he hates the outfits, and every single performance reminds him that he isn't as talented as the rest of the family.
When his buddy Bert convinces him to form a rock band and enter a local talent show, Neil's playing improves and everyone notices, including a girl who shares his musical interests. He starts to think that all those years of practice might come in handy after all. But it all comes to a head when Neil has to choose between an important gig with the family band and the talent show. He's only sure of one thing: whatever he decides to do, he's going to be letting someone down.
2014 CCBC Best Books
2014 Hackmatack Children's Choice Award nominee
2013 Junior Library Guild selection
"Ryan writes well, and there's a positive underlying message about following your own path while honouring other responsibilities and commitments."Quill & Quire - September 1, 2013
"Neil’s voice is honest, with a touch of sarcasm and lack of self-perception that is appropriate for this age. Ryan wisely uses his other characters to flesh out Neil’s blind spots for the reader...The plot moves quickly as the reader follows Neil’s rising excitement about shows...Highly Recommended."CM Magazine - October 4, 2013
"Ryan uses simple language to create rich characters that stick with you long after you are finished reading the story. Readers can identify with Neil's struggles and his journey—the self-doubt and lack of direction. Bert, Sandy, and 'the Beast' are gorgeously drawn supporting characters who help Neil see beyond his own perceptions and reach for the dreams he didn't know he had."Resource Links - October 1, 2013
"A quick, enjoyable read, perfect for reluctant readers who like a 'feel good' story...Deals with subjects such as relationships, families, commitments, conflict and perserverance—a refreshing change."Sheila Cornelisse - October 30, 2013
"Any reader who has ever taken lessons in anything—whether it be artistic or not—will appreciate Neil’s struggles and will completely understand the personal and family pressure he feels to perfect his craft. Readers will also appreciate the conflict he feels between family obligation and personal interests, and the author resolves the situation in a satisfying and realistic manner...This innovative series offers something for all kinds of readers whether they are directly involved in the performing arts or not. They are short, fast-paced and well executed—stories perfect for fans of performing arts-focused television shows such as Glee."Canadian Children's Book News - September 1, 2013