Written by 11 yr. old son:
In Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan, Jeremiah Birnbaum is a rich kid with everything he could ever want. He has a tennis court, swimming pool and private bowling alley. He has three walk-in closets... one just for toys. His house has an elevator! But, he thinks his life is "one expensive nightmare." His best friend, Luella, who does not come from a wealthy family, has the freedom that he doesn't have. While he has a list of things to do, she gets to decide what she wants to be and what she wants to do, even what she wears. While she gets to go directly home after school, he has to take etiquette, ballroom, dancing, golf, painting and piano lessons.
At school, once a year, everyone has to run a cross-country race. Jeremiah is one of the slowest runners and Luella is one of the fastest, but Luella stays with him because she is his friend. This year, Luella suggests a shortcut. As they're walking across a field, they hear music. They go closer for a look and find an African American man playing the bluegrass banjo on the front porch of an abandoned house. Jeremiah hears it and feels as if the music is alive. He had never heard anything like it before.
Inspired, when Jeremiah gets home, he asks his parents if he can buy a banjo. "I have got more than enough money in my own bank account. In fact, I've got enough to buy 100 banjos." But, his parents say no, "It's not sophisticated enough." His parents, who made their money by inventing automatic dental floss dispensers, wanted Jeremiah to grow up "well-bred," because they hadn't had the same opportunities.
Out of character for him, because he doesn't normally disobey his parents, he decides to build a banjo. "Your parents didn't forbid you to make a banjo, did they?" asks Luella.
He starts listening to banjo music by various artists; he watches a recorded how-to-play-banjo lesson; and with the help of a few friends and teachers, builds a banjo using materials he finds.
Banjo of Destiny is an inspiring story about a boy who discovers his passion and follows it. He has to fight against his parents' perception of not only the banjo, but of what they want of him. Even though I'm not rich, like him, I could feel sympathy for Jeremiah and identify with how much he wanted to play the banjo. I think anybody who likes the banjo would like this book.