#10 Music Man – YA

Title: Music Man

Age Category: YA

Genre: Contemporary

Word count: 88,000

Jason Petterson, from Freedom Texas, is an amazing musician. He plays violin, clarinet, piano, guitar, and banjo equally well, and he’s totally unprepared for the regional music magnet school in Newberryport, Connecticut.

First there’s manic Sarah Elliot, an extroverted gymnast who’s tiny and tough as a tank. She rescues Jason on the first day of school. But her head is filled with demons and she’s not as strong as she seems. Losing her fight to hang on to her idyllic childhood, she enlists Jason, as the big brother she never had, to help.

Then there’s gifted Elizabeth Franklin, the school’s most talented singer and Sarah’s former student mentor. Unbeknownst to Jason, or anyone, she’s desperately struggling with her deteriorating home situation. When Elizabeth uses Jason to escape an unwanted boyfriend he convinces her to audition for Sing Out, a nationally televised vocal competition.

The trio’s unlikely friendship grows and the passion ratchets up as they prepare for the show, and unwittingly fall in love. Just as their moment of triumph appears within reach domestic violence, mental illness, and misunderstanding crash the story, marring their preparations, testing their courage, and hopelessly complicating their relationships.


  1. Music Man takes us into authentic YA world that is nonetheless still a little amazing. When I finished I was frankly sad I wouldn’t have the main characters around anymore, which is obviously a great sign – I cared about them, with all their faults and confusing emotions. There’s reality in the dialogue, and frequently the prose completely immerses us in their world.

    When so much Young Adult material is lightweight, fantastical, and inauthentic – Music Man really stands out.



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