The Tunes of Lenore

 

It is 2026, and whip-smart sixteen-year-old Ella is used to playing her beloved grandfather’s wise fiddle, Lenore, to escape her parents’ constant disagreements about her Dad’s burgeoning pot business. Now that they are finally getting a divorce, she is forced to attend a wilderness boarding school so extreme she has to chop her own wood for hot water. Will sneaking out and fooling around with the cute boys help her feel better? Ella is bound and determined to find out, but soon her complicated social life leads her into unexpected trouble with a trusted teacher. 

 

This sophisticated coming of age story is spiced with elements of magical realism and an unusually communicative female golden retriever who advises Ella along the way and is an integral part of the freedom she longs for when she listens to the tunes of Lenore. 

 

Review: 

*****

This review first published on Oh Just Books: 

 

The Tunes of Lenore is a beautiful book encompassing music, physics, dogs, ecology, farming, ranches, mechanics, nature, boarding school, sustainable living, farming, biology, research, and literature. It is a beautifully written book and one that I really enjoyed reading, and I'm sure you would too. 

 

It is set in the not-too-distant future, and environmental protection and ecology make up an important part of the story. Almost like it is an important character itself. The titular Lenore is a fiddle owned by Ella Bradley, our wonderful protagonist. She is a wonderful human being with goodness in her heart. If you think she is just another sulky teenager at the outset, you'll realize once Jenny (her dog) and Lenore (the aforementioned fiddle) come up in the story that Ella is anything but a regular teenager. You will come to like her even more as you read more of the book. Jenny is a very special dog, and I don't want to talk more about it because it's best if you read and see for yourself. The pictures in this book are beautiful too. It adds another dimension to the story and is a unique concept. 

 

What I really appreciated was that even though Ella had such wonderful gifts, she still was not shown as a perfect specimen of adolescence. She had a well-developed character arc and grew as a person through the progress of the book. She still had her moods and flaws and foibles and moments of insecurity, making her quite relatable to any teens reading this book. 

REVIEWS

5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review! 

Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

The Tunes of Lenore: When You Go to Boarding School Bring Your Friends by J.T. Blossom is a gripping coming of age story that features a compelling female protagonist. Set in the future in 2026, the novel tells the story of sixteen-year-old Ella, an intelligent girl caught in the constant conflict between her parents. Her dad runs a pot business which fuels the tension between the parents, but the looming divorce makes things even worse for her as she is sent to a school far from home and to live under austere conditions. Will getting the attention of boys fill the emptiness in her heart and abate the restlessness in her soul? Follow a tale in which a grandfather's wise fiddle and a mysterious friend help bring a young character home to herself. 

This is a novel of unique beauty. The protagonist has a solid background, a young girl in a home filled with tension. The author does an impeccable job with the backstory, keeping it measured and using it to add depth to the character development. The prose is crisp and filled with a unique charm that keeps the reading exciting and engaging. While J.T. Blossom develops exceptionally good characters, it's the author's gift for storytelling that captured my attention. The Tunes of Lenore: When You Go to Boarding School Bring Your Friends is an exciting read for fans of coming of age stories and tales that are transporting. This novel kept me reading through the night; it is deft and balanced.


Medea's review Jun 30, 2019
it was amazing

The Tunes of Lenore is an enjoyable novel, aimed at teenagers, with a storyline set in the not-to-distant future that weaves in elements of nature, psychic abilities, music, sustainable living, animal rights, true love, technology, and teenagers coming into their power. The book centres around Ella, who has a strong telepathic connection to her dog Jenny, as she attends a boarding school in the wilderness of California. 

Author J.T. Blossom does a good job in taking readers on a journey to connect them with nature as some of the characters take a vested interest in the preservation of the planet and its flora and fauna, issues that many teens today are passionate about. A good storyteller, he also balances this with other characters - some superficial and some who are not what they appear.

The Tunes of Lenore has all the ingredients that would keep teens and adults alike interested and the plot also touches on some more serious issues affecting young people.

HGSR

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Choice for Young Readers

March 3, 2019

 

One normally does not start at and ending when writing a review, but the last pieces of imagery and the beautiful accompanying illustration cap perfectly this captivating, creative piece of juvenile fiction. Unique is the author's use of illustrations and I found myself guessing and anticipating what treasure may be around the next turned page, and how matched with the text. The character development is authentic for all, but most strikingly for Ella. We first meet her in the car in her cautious teen angst. But throughout the pages, her journey and experiences allow her to open her mind and heart to a smooth and realistic maturity. Her relationship with Jenny, and how author John Blossom reveals the dog's history, her secrets piece by precious piece, captures the truly magical and deeply meaningful relationship between human and canine, if indeed we humans are patient and loving enough. What strikes me as particularly important about this book is how the author does not fall prey to certain stereotypes of young teens as often snarky, entitled or just plain mean. Talents, both natural and honed, physical attributes, intellects, backgrounds, personalities, family situations -- all are treated with respect and dignity, allowing the reader to embrace the essence of the story, the complexities of these lives, both young and older, and ultimately, the triumphs. I recommend The Tunes of Lenore strongly for young readers, as well as teachers for book studies into the complex world of today and certainly, the possibilities for tomorrow.

 

 

Julie M. Shea

4.0 out of 5 stars Great story

March 10, 2019

I really enjoyed this book ~ I got right involved in the main character (Ella) as she dealt with her parents' divorce as well as being shipped off to boarding school. But you get to watch her grown, learn and change ~ I love getting to be an observer to a character's internal growth.

The book is set a little bit into the future - 2026. Maybe it's because I'm a little older than the intended reader, but I was a little distracted by some of the "future technology" presented in the book, with, I thought, very little explanation. Maybe the younger reader would adapt to that with little difficulty.

But overall, the general theme of this book is completely relatable ~ A teenager is growing into an intelligent, responsible adult. Sometimes, learning the hard way, which is something we can all relate to. You can't help but cheer her on. And I got choked up at the end. Not too many books can do that!

 

luckymom

4.0 out of 5 stars Great unique story for teens, dog lovers and nature lovers!

March 24, 2019

The Tunes of Lenore is a very unique story that takes place in California a few decades in the future. Things aren't too different, but America has two presidents, global warming has seriously affected the environment, and technology has made some amazing advances, including genetically engineering dogs to make them smarter and able to communicate on a whole different level.

Ella and her mom and Ella's very special dog, Jenny are headed to a new type of boarding school called Wandering Pines. Ella has been in trouble in school, with her boyfriend, and with her family. Her parents are splitting up - Mom spends to much time in her art studio with her artist friends and Dad is developing a new type of marijuana called "Enlightenment" that is a miracle cure for addiction and small-mindedness. Of course, Ella snuck in and sampled some and now she's headed out to the wilderness of California to a new school that will challenge her and get her back on track. The only upside is that Ella can bring her dog, Jenny, who communicates with Ella by sending her smell signals and pictures of different classical paintings that convey her thoughts.

School ends up being pretty cool. Her roommate Kerri, and the other students are awesome and Jenny gets along great with the other dogs. Ella finds a boyfriend in Peter, the teachers are kind and interesting and her junior project in the garden could have a genuine effect on agriculture and disappearing natural resources. Jenny loves Branden's dog Max and Ella soon suspects that Max has abilities like Jenny.

Ella brought her prized possession with her - a unique violin bequeathed to her by her grandfather on his deathbed. Playing Lenore soothes Ella, but she's reluctant to share her talent with the other folks at Whispering Pines.

Throughout Ella's Junior year, as we meet the other students and teachers, J.T. Blossom presents a variety of philosophies on life and the state of the world. Nothing is forced or too confrontational but presented as part of the tale. I really enjoyed the story and Blossom's use of the paintings as part of Jenny's communication was engaging. Middle and High School aged kids would love this book. There are some frank discussions about sex and the teens sneak around with each other, but nothing is too graphic or offensive. This is a great addition to your library and perfect for kids who are tired of the same old stories and plot-lines. The author's bio mentions that there is a prequel and a sequel coming soon - I look forward to reading them!!

 

Maggie T.

5.0 out of 5 stars I will remember this one!

February 25, 2019

The Tunes of Lenore is a fascinating look at the near future from the perspective of a young high school student who is sent to a rustic boarding school in rural California. It explores survival and getting along as well as climate issues, animal rights and care issues, population, and natural resources. Ella, our protagonist, brings her dog, Jenny, and her violin or fiddle, Lenore, to the school with her. Each is special in their own way, and are important to the development of the story. The writing and storytelling grabbed me from page one and I finished it in less than a day. Excellent read that I will remember. I will definitely be looking for other books by J.T. Blossom!

 

Mari Carlson

4.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age for more than just the heroine

March 19, 2019

J.T. Blossom’s, The Tunes of Lenore, sings a hopeful future.

Ella considers the boarding school her divorcing parents send her to, a prison. Limited wifi, bugs, lots of hard classes with lots of homework, sports, work, chores and a small dating pool - Wandering Pines is a far cry from the cushy life she’s used to in suburban Northern California, 2026. Prison becomes opportunity, though, as Ella immerses herself in her junior project and befriends an eccentric boy who loves his dog and his instrument as much as she loves her dog, Jenny, and her violin, Lenore. Together, these companions adventure into adulthood.

Ella’s maturing comes about as she discerns problems and meets them with aplomb.

The challenges she discovers aren’t obvious at first. Despite her initial reactions, Wandering Pines seems like a utopia. But her thoughts, in italics, and Jenny’s reactions, depicted in images, suggest suspicions about some of her classmates and teachers. The more perfect the school seems, the more the questions mount. Is the niceness a facade? A nearby zoo owned by a famous rapper is also cause for concern. On top of these micro troubles, there’s global climate change and food shortage to consider. The book builds tension surrounding these problems through a series of increasingly fraught encounters between Ella, her parents, and school mates. The scenes are vivid and steady pacing increases interest in the plot. Dialogue doesn’t always help, however. Ella speaks like an adult, too self-aware and articulate, as though she’s already developed, not still developing.

The fantastical elements of the story add intrigue to Ella’s development. The future setting sets an imaginative tone. The book accurately describes music’s magical effects on players and listeners alike. Jenny is an extraordinary dog, the result of engineering experimentation. While scientific, she also reminds of Philip Pullman’s spiritual daemon characters in the Golden Compass series. Love emerges realistically, subtly, starting as friendship and growing into something deeper, more pervasive and sensual. Ella’s ability to navigate and harness these mystical forces in the face of conflict shows the curious and critical, ambitious and eager - the best side of teen-dom.

This third novel by J.T. Blossom isn’t just a coming of age story about a teenage girl, but about the potential for human society to be shaped and informed by shifting natural forces. Stay tuned for a sequel coming out soon.

 

Clar

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Ambitious and Revolutionary!

February 23, 2019

The Tunes of Lenore is a very ambitious book set in the future that delivered well. In this novel, we get to see our protagonist, Ella, adapt to a new surrounding, make new friends and take on more responsibility. We also get to see how insightful Lenore, her fiddle is and get to know her adorable and witty Golden Retriever companion, Jenny.

 

Ella starts out to be like any teenager these days– critical and curious. As she adjusts to her new school and living situation, she also reshapes how she sees the world. She used to be the type of teenager who takes in whatever she sees at first glance but through the help of her friends, family, Lenore & Jenny, she deals with her problems differently.

This book is a great read. It's such a fresh take for coming-of-age literary fiction novels. I definitely recommend for people who like to read books that are interesting but revolutionary at the same time.

 

James H. Lake

5.0 out of 5 starsSheer magic!

February 21, 2019

Format: Paperback

Mr. Blossom has created a world of magic and whimsy that invites the reader's imagination to run wild. In "The Tunes of Lenore" you will share in the joys, mysteries and struggles offered up by a skillfully crafted and compelling plot that weaves together global warming, a telepathic canine, a magical fiddle and a brilliant young woman who faces complex challenges in an uncertain world. 'The Tunes of Lenore" is a balm for weary souls who yearn to recall lessons learned in childhood that have been long neglected by 'adults' and society at large. Highly recommended!


 

Mar 17, 2019 Sep rated it It was amazing

I adored this book and what's not to like. Cute dogs, cute lions, and even a magical violin! In the beginning, a protesting Ella is being sent to a summer camp -like high school where she lives in a cabin. Students do all the staff work. (Ella picks lettuce.) Like most high school there is a project. Unlike most schools, Ella gets to bring her dog with her. And what a dog. This one has well, don't think this is a spoiler, some extra skills not picked up at your local obedience training class.

Mr. Blossom's has written a magical story that also deals with real-life issues: divorce, first love, first betrayal, roommates, parents finding new partners, and sexual abuse. I think it's a stand-alone novel but sometimes I got the feeling it was book two of a series.

 

Mar 24, 2019 Judy Beetem rated it Really liked it

The Tunes of Lenore is a very unique story that takes place a in California few decades in the future. Things aren't too different, but America has two presidents, global warming has seriously affected the environment, and technology has made some amazing advances, including genetically engineering dogs to make them smarter and able to communicate on a whole different level.

 

Ella and her mom and Ella's very special dog, Jenny are headed to a new type of boarding school called Wandering Pines. Ella has been in trouble in school, with her boyfriend, and with her family. Her parents are splitting up - Mom spends to much time in her art studio with her artist friends and Dad is developing a new type of marijuana called "Enlightenment" that is a miracle cure for addiction and small-mindedness. Of course, Ella snuck in and sampled some and now she's headed out to the wilderness of California to a new school that will challenge her and get her back on track. The only upside is that Ella can bring her dog, Jenny, who communicates with Ella by sending her smell signals and pictures of different classical paintings that convey her thoughts.

School ends up being pretty cool. Her roommate Kerri, and the other students are awesome and Jenny gets along great with the other dogs. Ella finds a boyfriend in Peter, the teachers are kind and interesting and her junior project in the garden could have a genuine effect on agriculture and disappearing natural resources. Jenny loves Branden's dog Max and Ella soon suspects that Max has abilities like Jenny.

 

Ella brought her prized possession with her - a unique violin bequeathed to her by her grandfather on his deathbed. Playing Lenore soothes Ella, but she's reluctant to share her talent with the other folks at Whispering Pines.

 

Throughout Ella's Junior year, as we meet the other students and teachers, J.T. Blossom presents a variety of philosophies on life and the state of the world. Nothing is forced or too confrontational but presented as part of the tale. I really enjoyed the story and Blossom's use of the paintings as part of Jenny's communication was engaging. Middle and High School aged kids would love this book. There are some frank discussions about sex and the teens sneak around with each other, but nothing is too graphic or offensive. This is a great addition to your library and perfect for kids who are tired of the same old stories and plot-lines. The author's bio mentions that there is a prequel and a sequel coming soon - I look forward to reading them!!

 

Mar 13, 2019 M rated it It was amazing

This review first published on Oh Just Books.

The Tunes of Lenore is a beautiful book encompassing music, physics, dogs, ecology, farming, ranches, mechanics, nature, boarding school, sustainable living, farming, biology, research, and literature. It is a beautifully written book and one that I really enjoyed reading, and I'm sure you would too.

It is set in the not-too-distant future, and environmental protection and ecology make up an important part of the story. Almost like it is an important character itself. The titular Lenore is a fiddle owned by Ella Bradley, our wonderful protagonist. She is a wonderful human being with goodness in her heart. If you think she's just another sulky teenager at the outset, you'll realize once Jenny (her dog) and Lenore (the aforementioned fiddle) come up in the story that Ella is anything but a regular teenager. You will come to like her even more as you read more of this book. Jenny is a very special dog, and I don't want to talk more about it because it's best if you read and see for yourself. The pictures in this book are beautiful too. It adds another dimension to the story and is a unique concept.

What I really appreciated was that even though Ella had such wonderful gifts, she still was not shown as a perfect specimen of adolescence. She had a well-developed character arc and grew as a person through the progress of the book. She still had her moods and flaws and foibles and moments of insecurity, making her quite relatable to any teens reading this book.

*A review copy was provided to Oh Just Books by the author in exchange for an honest review*

 

Feb 24, 2019 Margaret rated it It was amazing

The Tunes of Lenore is a fascinating look at the near future from the perspective of a young high school student who is sent to a rustic boarding school in rural California. It explores survival and getting along as well as climate issues, animal rights and care issues, population, and natural resources. Ella, our protagonist, brings her dog, Jenny, and her violin or fiddle, Lenore, to the school with her. Each is special in their own way, and are important to the development of the story. The writing and storytelling grabbed me from page one and I finished it in less than a day. Excellent read that I will remember. I will definitely be looking for other books by J.T. Blossom!

 

Feb 23, 2019 Lydian Blossom rated it It was amazing

This is a charming and original coming of age story set in a creative (and somehow sort of plausible?) near future in which animals and humans can communicate, and music can be quite literally transformative. The story is fun, engaging and well written, and manages to also say something important about our relationship to the natural world. Highly recommend.

 

Feb 21, 2019 Jennifer Shanahan rated it Liked it

I thought this book was kind of odd. Ella is a California high school junior sent to a boarding school by her parents because they need time to work out their problems. The school is very rustic where the few students that there are have to do all sorts of chores like gardening, chopping/getting wood to heat water for the showers and their rooms (which are not heated--neither is the water). It is a school where they have classes but much of the curriculum is outdoors--the kids live in cabins with their pets and there is little supervision. At first Ella thinks it is weird but the longer she is there the more she fits in. She plays her old fiddle, Lenore, as an escape which help her think and her dog is also very helpful and soothing. She deals with a lot of normal adolescent issues like her boyfriend, her roommate, school projects (about urine) and some not normal like unwanted attention from a teacher and her family issues. She matures and deals with them as an adult, slowly as the story progresses. Also in this book everyone is wearing/using PHONEGLASSES. What are those? I have never heard of them. Maybe they are a California thing and not in the Midwest yet?Throughout the book, there are pictures scattered of things that Ella thinks and encounters which is kind of different and a little weird (some of the pictures too). The writing is decent but kind of choppy. Good if you are looking for something different--a quick, interesting read. Thanks to NG for the ARC!

 

 

Horse Boys

 

Child abuse? Or the greatest experience of a lifetime? Thirteen-year-old Michael Bentley is dumped off to work at an all-male horseback riding stables for the summer. When his young boss, Cal Masterson, lies to his father, changes Michael's name, and starts throwing punches, Michael knows he is in for more than just a bumpy trail ride.

 

The soul-crushing psychological traumas of "Coolidge," as he experiences the grit and beauty of working with horses and the challenge of fitting in with older, unsupervised horse boys with questionable values is sad. More than just a compelling coming of age story set in the late sixties, what happens to Coolidge is emblematic of social pressures that young men still face today.

 

Ever wonder why there is so much bull in our male-dominated world? Puzzled over how lying to women and treating them as objects get implanted? This novel will provide vivid and disturbing insight from an era when sexism and male entitlement was more openly expressed. The confusion sensitive Coolidge experiences while dealing with these ingrained cultural forces, and how he ultimately rebels against the egotism of his boss who subordinates natural kindness, humanity and respect to manipulation, domination, and power is uplifting.  

 

Not for the faint of heart, Horse Boys is a novel that reveals the stark and lonely challenges still facing too many young men. 

 

 

Five Stars Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Horse Boys: When Growing Up Is A Kick In The Head is a work of social issues and coming of age fiction penned by author J. T. Blossom. Intended for mature readers due to some of the graphic violence content, the novel focuses on a vital period of growing up for young Michael in the late sixties in the USA. The suburban Michael is only newly teenaged, more concerned with school and sports than rough riding horses, so his new position of helping out the horse boys at their grimy riding stable comes as a real shock to the system. Through their shocking behavior and ideology, Michael questions what it really means to grow up and become a man.

Although this is an extreme example, author J. T. Blossom’s cautionary coming of age tale arrives at a perfect time in the modern climate of toxic masculinity. In itself, Michael’s story is one which is harrowingly apt, terrifyingly realistic and very well portrayed from an emotional perspective, but beyond that, it has a much larger message to tell which expands off the page into today’s world. The journey from Michael to ‘Coolidge’ and his sense of identity reflects the power of such bitter socialization, the attitudes which the other bullying boys around him portray, and the story leaves you with many questions about how much of this practice is still around today. Overall, Horse Boys: When Growing Up Is A Kick In The Head is a well written and graphic tale with important talking points for today’s world.

 

S. E. Pruitt

4.0 out of 5 stars Crazy and stupid acts are the norm and bad advice is everywhere

January 19, 2018

This is the story of Michael who gets a job working as one of the horse boys who take care of the horses that cater to tourists and campers for rides during their vacations to the country. Michael is dropped off by his alcoholic father (a summer camp the old drunk does not have to pay for!) and worries about his mother, who has MS.

 

The horse boys are a tough group. Disciplined by violence, crazy and stupid acts are the norm and bad advice is everywhere. Still, Michael, renamed Coolidge, survives and sort of thrives until a wild and unexpected climax that had me reading WAY later last night than I planned. A little wordy at the beginning but persevere. You will appreciate that information as the story unfolds.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars What we teach our boys about being men

July 9, 2018

Mr. Blossom shares a powerful coming of age story which lays bare the way young men are socialized in our culture. From an insider's perspective, he portrays one early teen's harsh and even traumatic baptism into what our culture says a man should be, and the inner conflicts of a boy both wanting, and not wanting, to fit into that mold. In this age of the #metoo movement, it's important to understand how many men are socialized into sexism, alcohol abuse, macho behavior, and denial of any degree of vulnerability. Blossom does all that, and more. In terse prose, he allows us to witness one boy's struggle to be himself, and also to try to fit into a toxic variant of macho culture into which he has been abandoned by his father. While the world of the stables where his main character struggles to fit in is more extreme than many other testing grounds for boys becoming men in our culture, it is only so in degree, not in kind. Perhaps because this world is so over the top, it helps us to see what is all around us, and the messages we give our boys about who they should be. A must-read.

 

Kim Bateman

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwrenching Coming of Age Story

January 7, 2018

We follow “Coolidge,” a perceptive, thoughtful, and sensitive young man as he is initiated into the hierarchical world of power through humiliation at a summer stable job in Wisconsin. Great material for discussions with tweens/teens on the pressures of conformity (particularly around risk taking, drugs/alcohol, and misogyny), and the need to stay true to one’s self.

 

James H. Lake

5.0 out of 5 stars A bittersweet homage to coming of age in rural 1960s ...

July 9, 2018

A bittersweet homage to coming of age in rural 1960s America, Horseboys is a compelling testament to one boys' courage and idealism in the face of socially sanctioned abuse. The author vividly portrays how integrity and idealism of youth can overcome despair and feelings of abandonment.

 

Alex Lee

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and well-written

November 17, 2018

The book is a beautiful novel.

 

Mari Carlson

4.0 out of 5 stars like horse, like boy

January 31, 2019

Set in Wisconsin, 1969, J.T. Blossom’s Horse Boys is a summer of sex, drugs and rock and roll - coupled with the hard work of growing up.

Due to marital and financial difficulties, instead of paying for Michael to attend a camp the summer before high school, his parents send him to work at the horse stables. The youngest of the “horse boys,” Michael, nicknamed Coolidge (Cool), gets extensive training not only in horse care and stable maintenance, but in bullsh--ing. By the end of the summer, Cool forms an opinion of the hazing techniques and dangerous entertainment that supplement his grueling work experience.

The descriptions of the setting, both Eastern Wisconsin’s natural beauty and the perils of insects, heat, and horse body functions, are the staple of this novel. The writing’s clear conveyance of Cool’s full engagement with these physical forces is offset by a few instances of moralizing and clumsy sentences. The narrator is more than omniscient; he addresses “you” with a message. Reading group discussion questions at the end of the book confirm the leading tone of the narration.

Cool is the easiest character to whom to relate. His inner thoughts, which he is careful to keep private, are italicized, voicing his, and readers’ wide spectrum of reactions to all his new experiences, from getting drunk, to the Beatles, to horse sex, to stealing logs, and stealing glances at girls in the shower. The few females are also multi-faceted, although they show up too seldom to develop as characters. The other horse boys exhibit more of a group character: brazen, brawny, risk-taking, and bronzed. Their endless school boy humor isn’t funny so much as farcical. It highlights how tiresome their act gets and how genuine Cool becomes.

The horses parallel the boys. Mostly, the horses share character traits. A wild horse the boys tame, Rim Tank, stands out like Cool. Their dramatic transformations conclude in a stunning ending, replete with a stand-off and a tragedy.

A vivid coming of age story that sets life lessons in the rousing - and arousing - context of a horse stable

 

Anna Eshelman

3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but difficult read

February 9, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition

First of all, the good. Horse Boys is an in-depth look at human nature and the effect of peer pressure on a young man. Throughout the book, Coolidge is talked into dangerous and self-destructive behaviors, including drinking underage, driving when he doesn't know how to, and cliff-diving. The barn exists in an almost Lord of the Flies type environment, where the only inhibition on the boys' actions is bad PR. It's a fascinating look of how much human behavior can be shaped by those around us.

With that said, this is not an easy book to read. As someone with years of experience with horses, the way that the horses were treated made me a bit sick. Additionally, the peons (the boys who work at the barn) suffer physical abuse from the bosses whenever they make mistakes. While Blossom does not describe it extensively, it is a common thread throughout the tale.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.

 

Joe

4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this story tremendously

February 13, 2018

I enjoyed this story tremendously. It's an honestly written story dealing with timeless issues we all faced growing up. Central to that is the core of peer pressure. How "Coolidge" reacts to it, and what he learns from his actions. At times cruel, other times poignant, the author uses a deft hand to reveal the inner workings of his character's souls without being preachy. I'd imagine this as an excellent way to start discussions on a wide range of subjects for teensagers and older. This is certainly a book I'll revisit many times to explore the areas I missed during my first read. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

jerry bleckel

5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, gripping, and a great read

July 16, 2018

Readers uncomfortable with hierarchies will be challenged but emerge with a better understanding of human nature after reading Horse Boys. Blossom’s novel exquisitely details Coolidge’s struggle to establish his position in the stables’ hierarchy. HIs cruelly effective “bosses” (often just kids themselves), wittingly or not guide Coolidge into an adulthood of his own choosing. Blossom’s novel crackles with authentic dialogue and explores difficult themes that are as meaningful now as ever.

 

California Woman

5.0 out of 5 stars All Things Are Possible

January 8, 2018

I find J.T. Blossom to be an exceptionally insightful observer of human nature - concentrating on the vagaries of the reptilian mind of the so-called modern male. Quite a summer's romp for a young teen at an all-male horseback riding stables. The Reading Group Guide at the end of the book will help those young men who have been subjected to such inhuman treatment to understand why and what they actually experienced, and perhaps overcome some pain along the way.

 

Montronique

3.0 out of 5 stars I do like that it makes you feel like you’re right there ...

February 19, 2018

I was part of an ARC program. The book starts off somewhat slow. It’s not really in my normal genre of reading. It took me a while to get through. I do like that it makes you feel like you’re right there hanging out with the guys through all their adventures.

 

Laura S

4.0 out of 5 stars A memorable coming of age tale.

February 20, 2018

This book will stick with me for a while, I can tell you that.

It brought me back to wen I worked at a horse camp as a teenager. While it was a few years later than this book is set, the hierarchy and the insanity of slightly older kids supervising way-too-young kids felt VERY realistically portrayed.

The way the horses were treated in this book made me uneasy throughout. Horse lovers, brace yourself! I hope no one reading takes it to be anything but a cautionary tale in that regard!

Really interesting themes of toxic male culture. A unique and memorable coming of age tale!

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

dany mance

4.0 out of 5 stars Rambling tale of a boy sent to work at a ...

February 12, 2018

Rambling tale of a boy sent to work at a horse camp. His mother is terminally ill and his father is experiencing financial set backs added to his emerging into manhood issues , You feel his confusion and frustration at suddenly being surrounded by immature leadership and trying to fit in. Received the Advanced Reader Copy for review.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars horse and boy

February 12, 2018

i got an arc copy and i want to review

he is sensitive boy wanting to do well at school. then one day his dad takes him to a ranch where he has to work with horses. he is lost and the other boys are going to push him even harder, read to see where this will go to

 

JoeBuckRoody Emmy

3.0 out of 5 stars True

January 26, 2019

It's all true. I lived it.

Trespassing

 

What does an adventurous person have to say about life after surviving near-death experiences with silo gas, a rockslide, a flash flood, a hungry shark, a family of whales, a live volcano flow, an avalanche, a pair of fighting moose, a family of bears, a dangerous granite cliff, and a collapsing hillside of garbage? All are exciting and true stories, but nothing compared to what's coming for humanity if we don't put an end to climate change now. 

 

Trespassing: When Nature Speaks Do We Listen?

A Memoir by John Blossom

Trespassing

When Nature Speaks Do We Listen?

by J.T. Blossom

Non-Fiction - Memoir

208 Pages

Reviewed on 06/18/2019

BOOK REVIEW

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

Trespassing: When Nature Speaks Do We Listen? by J.T. Blossom is a collection of dramatic stories which throws light on the author's privileged American lifestyle and how it influenced his actions towards others and nature. It reveals his reverence for nature and speaks about the loneliness that comes with destructive cultural assumptions. The memoir has a good share of his adventures and misadventures and is a fine blend of the author's survival and his love of nature. The author's stories and adventures are also a call out to readers and will make them look at their lifestyles that can be detrimental to nature.

The stories are thought-provoking and insightful and will make readers think about their connection and relationship with nature. Each story is different but exposes the adventurous side of the author and will take readers on a new journey. The narration is detailed and descriptive and that makes each story vivid and tangible. The Reading Group Guide at the end of the book is useful when it comes to having discussions in reading groups. I liked the way J.T. Blossom knits in loneliness, connection, and the importance of preserving nature and the planet seamlessly without sounding forced. I liked the author's approach to highlighting how important it is to be kind to nature and the planet we live in. He does this in a unique and different way, which makes the stories interesting and entertaining. It is a good memoir to make readers listen to nature's calling and her messages to humanity.

 

jerry bleckel

5.0 out of 5 stars An autobiography told through near-death experiences

February 4, 2018

A seemingly unconnected compilation of near-death nature stories actually unfolds as one man’s journey through his self-described misunderstood relationship with nature to discover himself. Many of the stories will ring true with readers: adolescent forays into forbidden areas, unexpected encounters in the forest or the ocean with fearsome creatures or extreme weather. Blossom’s stories connect through his unwavering love affair with the outdoors to create an autobiography of a life lived with intention and reflection. Blossom’s look back on each adventure brings not only understanding but deep meaning as he finds patterns that connect in his life. The reader will find such patterns as well. As a civilization we seem to be tumbling headlong into a cataclysmic conflict with nature, and Blossom’s writings can be a useful guide as we struggle to decide to what extent our own lifestyle and relationship with nature is indeed harmful to the planet as well as ourselves. One of Blossom’s favorite authors, Edward Abbey, once wrote, “may your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” By book’s end, we join Blossom to stand back and marvel at this amazing view.

 

James H. Lake

5.0 out of 5 stars A soul-filled memoir of high-stakes adventures and misadventures and the ...

January 23, 2018

A soul-filled memoir of high-stakes adventures and misadventures and the mortal and moral lessons learned from them, "Trespassing" is a must-read for anyone who has been at the narrow margin between life and death.

 

Mandy Walkden-Brown

4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, engrossing memoir.

February 22, 2018

In retrospect, it's amazing that we all survived our childhoods, adolescence and early adulthood, because I'm sure many of us have episodes in our past that bring a shudder to our more sensible adult selves.

There are some extraordinary tales of a young man placing himself in some very precarious scenarios and pretty much ignoring his own mortality and insignificance in the face of nature's power within these pages.

Enjoyed Blossom's journey and the lessons he learned long after the events he described and definitely with the hindsight of both age and eventual garnering of wisdom.

I received this as an e-ARC and happily wrote a review, there's some good insight here together with some hair-raising adventures and it was a very worthwhile read.

 

Anna Eshelman

3.0 out of 5 stars Part memoir, part survival story, part love letter to nature

February 6, 2018

Trespassing is part memoir, part survival story, and part love letter to nature. J.T. Blossom tells a series of what his friends have dubbed "Death Stories" that range from amusing to "but seriously, how are you still alive?" These stories are told out of order and in in a tone that will make you feel like you're sipping beer around a campfire with a friend. Sprinkled throughout are Blossom's musings on nature and how climate change may alter how we as humans relate to nature.

At times, Trespassing is gripping, but mostly it's interesting and thought-provoking. Despite the situations that Blossom gets himself into, his writing never truly masters the art of tension. Instead, the stories read more factually. If you're interested in the outdoors (or love swapping crazy stories with your friends), you'll likely enjoy this book.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.

 

Kathy Cooper

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it!

January 30, 2018

I decided to read this book because it has a very intriguing title and book cover. From hiking in the mountains of Colorado, to the volcanoes of Hawaii, this book is full of many true and exciting adventures. If you like adventure of any kind, I think you will enjoy it. In addition the author has some thoughtful reflections at the end as to why he was so adventurous, and how he can now relate his experiences in nature to his feelings about climate change. He has also included some interesting questions about his stories for readers, or for a Book Club discussion.

 

Amazon Customer

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Memoirs

February 12, 2018

This was a very interesting bunch of adventurous stories in nature. The only thing for me to criticize was the lack of chronological order.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book”.​

 

L. Beske

5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed reading this book and experiencing all of the adventures ...

July 24, 2018

I really enjoyed reading this book and experiencing all of the adventures throughout. I was a little concerned, however, at the number of expeditions (and projects) you undertook all alone. (Not always wise!) I love your adventuresome spirit, but please be careful! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

 

Deborah J Anderson

5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this adventurous book

March 26, 2018

I loved this adventurous book, especially the chapter about the Hawaii volcano, because I too have been to this Hawaii volcano. The author's style of writing is very descriptive and each chapter takes you on a new journey. I think anyone would enjoy reading it.​

 

Amy Reads

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good!!

February 9, 2018

Wow! What an interesting read!

 

Kindle Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow

February 9, 2018

I got an ARC copy and I want to review

This will have you gasping at some of the third that have happened to the people in this book. It will leave you wondering how on earth they got out safe and sound​

 

maria mejia

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars

February 11, 2018

It was awesome!! Can't wait to read more from this author. Very engaging and had a good storyline

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