I really enjoy books about music, and this was no exception. What I particularly like about YA books that deal with teenagers who play in bands is that they often portray how music and the friendship with fellow band mates helps them grow as persons and accept who they are. This was exactly one of the reasons that I enjoyed I Am (Not) The Walrus.
The Beatles-inspired title of the book is no accident, as I Am (Not) The Walrus is the story of Toby who plays bass and is the vocalist in a two-piece Beatles cover band together with his friend Zach. One day, Toby finds a note inside the bass he has on loan from his brother who is in Afghanistan as a soldier. This note sets off a series of events that include Zach’s attempt to have Toby finally kiss a girl, encounters with a scary bloke who seems bend on getting his hands on Toby’s bass guitar, and a storyline surrounding his family’s poverty and his brother’s borderline criminal past.
Toby’s awkwardness and humour are really what make this book quite an endearing read, even if not every plot line is executed as fully as I might have liked. I can’t help going “Awww” a little when I think of him, his insecurities, the way he acts around the girl he likes, his general confusion, and his efforts to get things right.
I did really enjoy reading about this episode in a bass player’s life, but I did find one thing a little hard to believe: there were moments when the book simply seemed to be trying a little too hard to make for an exciting story, which resulted in some absurd situations. I simply couldn’t wrap my mind around why Toby and his friends would almost seek out danger and then remark on being scared so often. Why would someone continue to trust people who he knows have hurt that trust time and time again? I know that this in part may be a realistic reflection of the naivety human beings often act on, but seeing it repeated a number of times in print, I found it a little more difficult to accept as natural.