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Road Rash    by Mark Huntley Parsons order for
Road Rash
by Mark Huntley Parsons
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2014 (2014)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Sixteen-year-old Zach is living his dream. He's still in high school and he's already a drummer in an up-and-coming band. When he's offered a place as drummer in Bad Habit, a better known band which will soon be going on tour, he's loyal to his current band, the Sock Monkeys, and turns the invitation down. Shortly after he finds out that loyalty only goes one way. The Sock Monkeys drop him for another drummer. Their new drummer isn't better, but his dad has built a recording studio on their estate.

Zach's best friend Kyle avoids him before and after the cut, but Kyle's little sister Kimberly keeps Zach up to date. The new drummer still has a lot to learn. Even a recording studio can't make up for a poor drummer. Zach is still kicking himself for not making the jump to Bad Habit before he was dropped.

Bad Habit gives Zach another chance and before he knows it, he's on tour for the summer. He loves it. Zach is smart enough to know he has a lot to learn. With the exception of the lead singer, the band is professional and the members are great. Zach misses Kimberly even though they were just friends and is devastated when she believes lies about him that are fed to her by a former boyfriend.

Zach's story is told in first person with jokes about drummers throughout. The book deals with loyalty, professionalism, jealousy, rivalry, and friendship. The author, Mark Huntley Parsons, is a professional musician, owns and operates a recording studio in California, and writes for Modern Drummer Magazine as well as non-fiction books for musicians, including The Drummer's Studio.

2nd Review by Ricki Marking-Camuto:

If you are looking for something new in YA contemporary, you need to check out Mark Huntley Parsons's Road Rash. With a strong male protagonist and a genuine side love story, this is a novel that makes perfect summer reading for both genders.

It is the end of junior year and Zach Ryan thinks he has his whole summer planned out rehearsing with his band, the Sock Monkeys, and then playing a gig every Saturday at the local laser tag place. Within a week, all of that changes when he gets kicked out of the Sock Monkeys for a drummer with little talent but big connections, and his dad signs him up for a job at the yard supply store. After spectacularly quitting after only one day, his summer becomes a total bust, so he jumps at the chance to audition for Bad Habit who just fired their drummer. It takes some convincing, but his parents eventually agree to let him tour with Bad Habit which has gigs booked all through the upper Rockies. At first it seems like a dream come true, but soon Zach learns that Bad Habit is not really the cohesive unit they show on stage. And then there is the matter of the girl he left back home ...

There is an old adage that says to write what you know, and it is obvious that Parsons knows his stuff. The minor details about bands, drumming, and life on the road gave an authenticity to the story. Not only does Parsons know about music, but he also knows about teenage love. Road Rash has one of the most realistic love stories that I have encountered in modern YA fiction. There is no instant attraction, there is no love triangle, and there is no game playing; there is just a guy who is too stupid to realize a girl likes him until it is almost too late.

Road Rash is a fine example of realistic contemporary YA. Mark Huntley Parsons has really made it stand out by choosing a garage band drummer as his protagonist and it works!

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