Title: Music Box
Author: John C. Houser
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Davoud Avakian, Paul Gaston, Jonah Winfield
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age
When bullies chase Jonah Winfield to the front step of Avakian Music, owner Davoud Avakian intervenes and offers Jonah sanctuary among the lush chords of the Music Box’s Steinway Grand. Jonah’s sexuality isn’t a problem for Avakian, but it’s an issue the kids at school won’t allow Jonah to forget—whether he’s ready to deal with it or not. When the bullying escalates to violence, Jonah’s favorite music teacher, Mr. Gaston, wants to take the bullies to the principal.
Speaking up for his favorite student may bring Paul Gaston’s own sexuality up for debate, and with budget cuts looming, he’s already on shaky ground. Forcing Jonah to do anything will only make matters worse. Getting Jonah’s cooperation requires earning his trust and helping to preserve the sanctuary of the Music Box. But the generations old music store handed down to Davoud is on the verge of bankruptcy. If Paul and Davoud can’t figure out how to turn the business around, everyone will feel the loss.
To my knowledge Music Box is the first book I’ve read by this author and I have to say, it won’t be the last. I loved how he was able to write complex, interesting characters that lived and breathed off of the written page.
Another thing that I liked about this book was the storyline. These characters had real issues with real problems they had to both live and deal with. I also appreciated how in the end, the family (whether makeshift or not) were able to band together and all become stronger people because of it.
The romance is between the two adults, Paul and Davoud. I liked how these two men really stood together to help the teen, Jonah. It was because of this, that the friendship between them grew into something truly special. The feelings and respect between Paul and Davoud really resonated off of the written page, and I enjoyed watching these two men fall in love.
I also loved Jonah. He’s a teen that is going through a lot of angst in his life. He’s bullied because the students suspect he is gay, has parents he has a hard time relating too, and when a tragedy happens in his life, could have easily given into an existence of unhappiness and misery. I came to really admire Jonah’s strength and loved watching him start to grow into a honorable and strong young man.
The friendship between Jonah, Paul and Davoud was a stunning portrayal of love and devotion. Watching these three people form a makeshift family between them brought tears of happiness to this reader’s eyes. I found myself rallying behind these characters in the hope for their love, happiness and success in life.
Music Box is a beautifully told story about love, forgiveness and the strength to be oneself. I loved these characters and hope that Mr. Houser will continue writing more about these amazing people in the future. If you are craving a story with a lot of depth as well as romance, Music Box is definitely the book for you.
Reviewed By: Gabbi