Book Review: Behind the Bars, Brittainy C. Cherry

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When I first met Jasmine Greene, she came in as raindrops.

I was the awkward musician, and she was the high school queen.

The only things we had in common were our music and our loneliness.

Something in her eyes told me her smile wasn’t always the truth.

Something in her voice gave me a hope I always wished to find.

And in a flash, she was gone.

Years later, she was standing in front of me on a street in New Orleans.

She was different, but so was I. Life made us colder. Harder. Isolated.

Caged.

Even though we were different, the broken pieces of me recognized the sadness in her.

Now she was back, and I wouldn’t make the mistake of letting her go again.

When I first met Jasmine Greene, she came in as raindrops.

When we met again, she was the darkest storm.

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“Because I heard his music. I heard his music last weekend, and then when I listened to him play…I don’t know…” I swallowed hard. “It’s like, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel alone.”

How do I begin a review for this book?

  • This story was so much MORE than what I was expecting
  • I was moved beyond belief with not only the story, but the feelings the characters evoked within me
  • The music … listening to the mentioned music, the music inspiring the words, and understanding how important music was to each of the characters … wow.
  • LISTEN TO THE MUSIC WHEN YOU READ. Seriously. So much of this book is written with these songs IN THE STORY, so listening to them truly doubles the feelings you have when you experience the story.
    Here is the playlist: http://spoti.fi/2kseHjp

I’ve always been a person affected greatly by music. I don’t have any particular musical talents myself, except a bit of singing here and there, but most every memory and deep feeling in my life is associated with a song. These characters took that feeling to another level — music was EVERYTHING to them: it came from their very soul. It was so deeply rooted in them that their very existence was intertwined with music.

Elliott. This boy is so much. When we meet him, he’s still in high school, but he is so much wiser than any high school boy I’ve ever met. He’s not popular, famous, or even well-liked, but he is so focused on what matters. Deep in his heart, in his very soul, he is the epitome of what humanity should be like. Outside, he isn’t what most people would give the time of day, but even that adds to his charm.

Jasmine. She is part of a dream that isn’t her own. Talent, beauty, charisma, intelligence — – these are all words that would be used to her. She hears Elliott before she sees him. “I felt him, felt his music crawl along my skin. The chords and bars of his saxophone sent chills down my spine. It sounded magical, the way the notes danced through the air, so hauntingly beautiful.” Jasmine is drawn to the beauty in his music, which is a direct reflection of the beauty in him. Unfortunately, Jasmine doesn’t see the potential for something like that within herself.

Once these two find each other, oh. my. gosh. I can’t even describe what seeing the discovery of love does to your heart. I’ve never really read a story where you watched the characters not only discover what love is in general, but do that while discovering how to love themselves and how to love their person. Elliott’s uncle TJ is my hero. I loved him so much from the very first few interactions. He also offers the deepest and most profound advice to Elliott, something I think we all need to take to heart regarding love and life: “And, buddy?” He called after me as I was almost outside the front door. “Take it slow. There’s no need to rush it. Let the harmony fall together the way it’s meant to. There’s nothing worse than a rushed note that could’ve been so perfect. Then, when you’re ready, call her beautiful, not hot, not sexy, but beautiful. They love to be called beautiful.” Tears. Straight tears. That’s exactly what I wish people would recognize, especially young adults. I tell my students this SO MUCH. There’s no reason to rush through anything! Rushing ruins all the beauty that comes from discovery!!

Gosh, I wish I could quote the entire book to you, but that would totally ruin it. I will tell you that this book is absolute BEAUTY. Are the characters perfect? No. Will your heart be broken by events that nobody can control? Yes. But there is so much here: so much to learn, to feel, and to experience.

My absolute favorite line:
He went back to staring out the window, and I kept staring at him. And there it was. So small, so tiny, so real. Love. It wasn’t love, but it was the beginning of it.” How I love she is acknowledging that moment when you know love is a possibility, but you haven’t quite settled in it yet. Not only is this my favorite feeling, but it is one that so often ignored. To find that wisdom in someone so young …

I feel like most of my review is just telling you how much beauty I found in this story, but it’s so true. Between the music, the feelings, and the story itself — I can’t really explain how much my heart experienced during this. Definitely one of my top ten for 2017.

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