The old cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover” couldn’t be more true regarding The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson. When I saw it in the catalog, I anticipated a story about a love-sick musician mourning the ending of his relationship with high school girlfriend meant for readers of a middle school level. However, the story was one with far more curse words, a love triangle, adultery and an inevitable death.
We begin with Henry, his high school girlfriend Val, and best friend Gabe. They each get a chance to tell the story from their perspective. Henry was always a bit “off” but that’s what Gabe and Val loved about him. He was a talented drummer and always took the time to appreciate the small things. When it was time for college, the trio set out for Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, not far from their hometown. All was perfect until Val decided she wasn’t living life to the fullest. She eventually decides to transfer to NYU for her sophomore year of college, leaving Henry alone and heartbroken.
Gabe does his best to console Henry after the breakup, but Henry begins skipping class, smokes a lot of pot, and spends hours mumbling incoherently and drawing weird geometric shapes on notecards. We soon find out that Henry is hearing music that no one else can hear and it’s the most prominent on the George Washington Bridge. Upon returning to the music room of Rutgers, he comes across a bizarre man. This encounter freaks him out because the man looks just like Henry. He returns to the bridge, feels nauseous and hears the voices of two unidentifiable men.
It becomes apparent at this point that Henry’s “sickness” is much like the 2004 movie, Butterfly Effect. When Henry hears the music, he jumps through time. At first, it’s a few days and eventually he jumps years into the past.
Ferguson demands the attention of his audience by creating a web of stories that weave in-and-out of each other. I found myself many times having to start a paragraph over, thinking from the correct perspective, in order to keep the story straight. But don’t let that discourage you, because the story soon becomes one you can’t put down.
The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson (Little, Brown & Company | ISBN 9780316323994 | March 24, 2015)