The Scar Boys is a book about how the act of making music can be a lifeline. While the conceit of being a college admissions essay didn't entirely work for me, The Scar Boys wonderfully captures the feeling of being young and striving, while flawed.
I loved the play-list chapter titles. As someone who lived through the time period, I could hum a few bars of about 2/3 of the songs (even though my taste in music at that time was different). After finishing the book, I spent an enjoyable evening playing through the titles (though I couldn't find the exact title by the author's 80's garage band The Woofing Cookies referenced in the book). I highly recommend taking the time to play as you read.
They say write what you know, and first time author Len Vlahos lived the world of 80’s garage bands that formed the backdrop to the story. It will be interesting to see if Len Vlahos’ 2nd novel is as strong.
You can hear a book trailer with the author reading a few pages of The Scar Boys, and then playing the song that appears at the conclusion of the book at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCaWgXeJ_pI