Harmony Ink Press, Madison Parker

Eighty-Eight Keys To Finding Love – Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent – Victor Hugo

Lucas Tate knows everything there is to know about what it means to be bullied, for everything from the way he looks to the way he loves his music. Lucas is the boy who has learned to keep to himself because he’s learned the hard way that to reach out to others and to try sharing the part of himself that defines who he is in every possible way; how he feels in any given moment; how he relates to the world in a language that has nothing to do with words and everything to do with sound and the playing of the notes that make the sounds that form the songs that are the way he relates to the world, will only serve to make him more of an outcast than he already is.

Lucas is what you’d call a sensitive boy if you’re being kind, fragile if you’re being honest, but, surprise, the kids at his school aren’t quite so generous as all that. No, they’ve decided it’s much funnier to call him names like Fairy Tate and Lucy Liu because, you know, Lucas doesn’t already consider himself a freak in every possible way, so they’ve taken it upon themselves to make sure each meager shred of his confidence is buried in the evidence of their scorn. These are the kids who will take every opportunity to lure Lucas into a false sense of comfort by pretending to befriend him, yanking that foundation of acceptance out from under him, then pointing and laughing at him while he falls. For Lucas, this is life and is the reason he has become a loner, which is made all the more difficult by his mother, who is well meaning, but whose reassurances that if he merely tries a little harder to put himself out there, he’s sure to fit in, aren’t helpful as much as naïve. The boy suffers the humiliation of being made the butt of the joke where ever he goes, of being the whipping boy for his younger brother, who seems to see Lucas as a constant source of embarrassment simply because he exists, and he learns not to trust anyone or anything if it seems too good to be true.

It’s nothing but a series of trials and errors and sometimes complete failures for Lucas, until he finds friendship in the form of a girl named Trish, and in Alex, the straight boy who has a crush on Trish, but who gives Lucas his first kiss, and who tries so hard to show Lucas what it’s like not to care about what anyone else thinks of him.

Donovan, the only openly gay boy in school, should be Lucas’ ally, though is anything but because he’s too busy despising Lucas for every part of Lucas that reminds him of the things he hates in himself. Zach Teagan, the one boy in school Lucas wants nothing more than to know and love, isn’t gay, and both boys are a cause of such torment for poor Lucas that it doesn’t seem he’ll ever get a break in this life. Until, that is, he does, when he discovers that poetry and music and the expression of feelings through words and melodies really can make a memory, one he won’t soon forget.

Madison Parker’s Play Me, I’m Yours is a tug-at-the-heartstrings story of a boy who wants so much to find someone who’ll love and accept him for who he is, but whose fate it seems to be to try and fade into the scenery and hope everyone will simply leave him alone. Though having said that, this isn’t solely a relationship book about a boy who’s longing above all else to find a boyfriend. This is very much the story of a teenage boy who’s trying hard to discover himself, who he is, what he wants, and to be proud of his immense talent.

Lucas doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve; he wears his heart like an entire suit of emotion, of pain and passion for his music and want for something he doesn’t think he’ll ever have. It’s a sweet and touching story of an introverted boy who finds his perfect match in the one he thought was unattainable. It’s filled with loads of teenage angst, but ultimately delivers an ending that has nothing to do with happily-ever-afters and everything to do with the boy who finally played his music, and the people who love him listened and understood what it is he was saying.

You can buy Play Me, I’m Yours here:

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