Elsie Wyatt wants to be a professional musician just like her dad. She plays the French Horn and she wants to audition as a freshman for the prestigious Shining Birches. If she was accepted, she would be the youngest person to join the group. She joins the high school marching band in order to expand her resume. Elsie finds out that there are no French Horns in marching bands and she will have to play the Mellophone.
On her first day of band camp she earns the nickname Chicken. She meets fellow band members Jake, Steve, Hector and Punk. She also meets Sarah, a girl she knew in junior high, who is a member of the flag team. Having friends and developing friendships is new to Elsie and she manages to botch up everything.
As time goes on, Elsie finds that she enjoys being in the band. She seeks her father’s approval and his respect for her abilities. However, their communication seems to breakdown completely, leaving Elsie feeling alone and unhappy. The band gets the opportunity to march in the nationally televised Darcy Parade for Thanksgiving, which is the same weekend of Elsie’s audition for Shining Birches. Elsie tries her hardest to re-establish her relationship with her friends and comes to realize that there is more to life than her French Horn and her sole career.
I highly recommend this book for older and mature readers. Don’t let the name of the book put you off. The book is very enjoyable and humorous. I think it portrays accurately the ins and outs of high school friendships and relationships.
Recommended by Karen Limbaugh, MLIS, Retired High School Librarian, Texas, USA