Tremolo: cry of the loon Paperback – Nov 14 2007
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About the Author
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries savors the countryside in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This novel set off powerful waves of memories and pure, unabased nostalgia in me, taking me back to a time when the Beatles were popular. There was even a term for it - Beatlemania. It was in full swing and John Kennedy and Martin Luther King were well-known as well. In those days, children spent summers outside, not in front of video games.TV? Four channels, at best, and one of those was a budding PBS station, another usually a local channel.
The power and importance of spending time outside is not a minor theme in this book but a major factor. I think nature is almost like another character here, multi-faceted, haunting. Those sections that described life outdoors renewed my desire to take the family camping and to enjoy simpler pleasures, those that are all around us, from a misty morning to the glare of sun on a bright patch of snow. Good timing, too, because it looks like me might be heading into a recession...but I digress.
At the heart of this book is a missing girl, the mystery surrounding her disappearance and young Gus, turning from child to man, coming of age during one memorable summer at a lakeside camp in Maine. From the first sentence in Chapter One: "We're not gonna make it" to the closing lines I felt swept into this book and wanted to know what would happen next.
I was captured by the main story, that lost girl and the three children (Gus and his friends, Sigfried and Elsbeth) who try to find out what happened to her. Along the way, mysterious guests arrive, ominous men appear and Gus has to deal with real danger as well as the inevitable turbulence of adolescence, from those first stirrings of love to the odd feelings he has about changes in his family.
One of the hardest jobs as a reviewer is trying to give a sense of the style and power of a book. In Tremolo, I'll note that several things grabbed my attention; the mystery at the heart of the book and also the strong sense of time, the details about a particular time in history. I also loved the personality of Gus as well as the way Mr. Lazar intersperses some very real events in his own life with those that are fictional. For example, there is one scene with a bat...that really did happen to Mr. Lazar when he was a boy.
In many ways, this book came about - and is a testimony - to Mr. Lazar's father. This makes it particularly special for me. It is impossible to read the Preface to this book and learn about the incredible man who was Mr. Lazar's father without feeling his spirit in many parts of the book, from an incident when that bat gets into the house,causing chaos, to sections covering racism, a first viewing of To Kill a Mockingbird and other scenes that paralleled Mr. Lazar's upbringing and childhood.
At the same time, this is not a memoir, not in the sense that every event described actually happened in "real" life. If you lived through the '60s, you won't be able to help feeling nostalgic, though. The icing on the cake is the suspense and mystery in the book, backed up by one boys' take on the whole situaton.
I urge you to visit the author's website at :
and also to visit the author interview to get a fuller look at the author's life and writing habits and suggestions. Most of all, I urge you to read this nicely crafted book and discover a promising voice whose mystery series and books are worth savoring.Tremolo: cry of the loon
At the tender age of eleven, Gus LeGarde has a lot to deal with. First, when Gus and his friends, Elsbeth and Siegfried, wreck their small boat, they manage to swim to shore, but as they make their way through the trees to Gus's grandparents' fishing camp where Gus and his family are spending the summer, they almost collide with a young girl. She's bleeding and frightened and running from a drunken man. Who is the girl the man calls Sharon? Why is he after her? Gus worries about Sharon and wants to help her, so he tells the authorities, but they give little credit to the young boy.
Second, who is the mysterious woman staying in Cabin Fifteen? Everyone is hush, hush about her, and all Gus knows is that she is old, has a cat, and recently lost a family member. She also has "guardians" who live in the cabin next to her, which means she's probably someone important.
Third, while authorities search for Sharon, valuable religious artifacts are stolen: a bell cast by Paul Revere and a rare marble statue of the Virgin Mary, along with other priceless objects. Is there a connection between Sharon's disappearance and the theft of the artifacts?
When Gus and his friends get too close to the truth, their lives become endangered. Will they rescue the missing girl, or will their fate be the same as hers, whatever that might be? If you're a child of the '60s, you'll remember the thirty-three rpm records, the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird," the Beatles, and five-cent sodas. If you're not a child of the '60s, you'll enjoy the twists and turns and surprises in this breathtaking mystery.
Beautiful imagery and touches of nostalgia make this a must read for all ages. You'll be glad you read it.
The plot centers around Gus' coming of age, his crush on a 15 year old girl, watching "To Kill a Mockingbird" with his parents and his subsequent emotions and questions (he asks his parents what rape is), his friendship with German-raised 10 year old twins, the children's adventures in trying to find a terrified young girl they had seen fleeing from a drunken man, mysteries around valuable missing religious artifacts and life at his grandfather's camp.
Aaron's gentle spirit comes through in his writing even with the complex subject matter. It's like he's serving a good meal on a tray and wants to be sure that we will like it.
I read the other reviews and wonder if some of the more critical ones don't miss the point a bit. Can't it be okay to enjoy ourselves wandering through the summer with these children, coming of age with them? I am fairly new to Aaron's writing style and am enjoying the pace with it's richness of sensation and weaving of characters and scenes both those he creates on his own and those he brings in from his past. Who hasn't had a situation, if not exactly the same at least in the same genre, in which he remembers his dad chasing bats around the house in his boxers and then recaptures so delightfully in Tremolo?
Aaron generously gives of himself while he creates a world for us to wander in and around, enjoying adventures with his characters.
It's the summer of 1964, Maine, and 11-year old Gus and two best friends are staying with their families on the camping grounds of the Belgrade Lakes, enjoying all the things the place has to offer -- swimming, boating, hiking.
But the kids' fun abruptly comes to a halt. One particularly foggy evening, as the kids barely manage to get back to the shore from the lake, they witness a scene their innocent minds aren't prepared for: a young girl, running, afraid, and a mean-looking drunk man chasing after her until they both disappear in the misty woods.
It is then that the hunt for the little girl named Sharon begins. Who was the man after her? Did he kill her? If he did, where is her body? Is she still hiding in the woods, scared to death of being discovered by her tormentor? At the risk of his own life, Gus refuses to let the investigation solely to the authorities and decides to take matter into his own hands and find out the truth.
Tremolo is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about a young boy's awakening to love and the cruelty and reality of the real world. Refusing to believe that such a heinous crime could be commited against an innocent child, Gus insists she must still be alive in the woods and thus leaves her food for her to eat. Indeed, someone is eating this food, but we don't know who this person is.
Lazar's lyrical prose sparkles with clarity and is very evoking at times, bringing to life the beauty of the setting and the genuinity of the characters. The writing is beautiful in its simplicity and some of the images stay in the reader's mind for a long time. Consider this passage, when Gus stumbles into the running girl for the first time:
"Sharon!" a man's voice roared. "Sharon, where are you?"
The girl collided with me. Staring with huge eyes, she covered a trickle of blood in the corner of her mouth. She trembled and breathed hard, silhouetted by the eerie glow of the light, clutching her torn blouse where two buttons were missing. Her palpable terror raised goose bumbs on my arms.
Before we could speak, she panicked and hopped off the trail into the woods.
A flicker of fear passed through me.
This book is the prequel to Double Forte, which features an older Gus LeGarde. Lazar has done an excellent job creating the voice of this 11-year old protagonist. Gus' thoughts and interactions with his friends are quite realistic for his age. Here we have a protagonist who is smart, perceptive and brave, but also innocent and sadly hopeful. The pages of Tremolo vibrate with suspense and quiet melancholy.
Obviously, Tremolo is set several decades before Double Forte, in 1964 to be exact. Lazar's rich array of details of the time and place obviously calls upon personal experiences, not mere research into the Maine lakes in the 1960's. In fact, a good share of my enjoyment of this book was in those "Oh, yeah!" moments from my own youth in Maine. I cut my feet on lake mussels, and tripped over protruding roots on pine needle-padded paths, and worked at a small family-run resort, and a million other things Lazar weaves into his tale.
As with Double Forte, there are broad gaps between action sequences and developments of the mystery plot, which are filled with Gus's narrative about the life going on around and inside him. In Tremolo, Lazar adds cultural references (e.g., JFK's assassination, To Kill a Mockingbird) that provide social commentary as Gus is educated in the summer school of hard knocks. It all adds up to a very good read.
Erik Synnestvedt was perfectly cast to narrate Tremolo. I'd listen to this guy read the phone book aloud. He portrayed young Gus's first person narrative brilliantly and switched from one character's voice to another flawlessly.