Saved By The Music

Saved by the Music by Selene CastrovillaSaved By The Music

by Selene Castrovilla
(WestSide Books, 2009)

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The last place fifteen-year-old Willow wants to spend her summer is on a run-down former coffee barge in a boatyard in Rockaway, New York. But that’s where her aunt is converting the broken down hulk into a floating concert hall and Willow has no choice but to help; her unstable mom has kicked her out for the summer. Willow’s miserable when she sees that there isn’t even a shower on the barge, and she has to deal with Craig, the leering hunk of a construction worker working with her aunt. The only bright spot is Axel, an older teenage boy living alone on a neighboring sailboat. Introverted and mysterious, he has the soul of a poet, a deep, philosophical mind, and loves Shakespeare. He’s also scarred by a painful, disturbing past, and the two bond through their shared pain and laughter. But when devastating events threaten to destroy them, Willow and Axel struggle to save each other – and themselves – before it’s too late.

Praise for Saved by the Music

“Castrovilla writes an alluring first novel about the unusual relationship formed between two self-destructive teens…Castrovilla skillfully weaves the stories of Willow’s and Axel’s past traumas into a touching account of their growing friendship. Readers will stay on the edge of their seats to see whether the teens will be successful in overcoming their obstacles and healing emotional scars.”
— Publisher’s Weekly Online

“After being kicked out of her unstable mom’s house, Willow must spend her summer helping her musician aunt convert a beat-up barge into a concert hall, but the guy living in the sailboat nearby makes her hard life a little easier.  This “problem novel” has a fantastic, unique setting that makes it stand out from others of the genre.  It hits on a lot of issues, had me gasping near the end, and will appeal to older readers who like Natasha Friend and Ellen Hopkins.”
— Deena Lipomi, YA librarian

“Castrovilla’s heroine springs to life with a sharp, distinctive voice and the evocative description of a derelict barge plunges the reader into the interesting setting immediately. Teens will love this book!”
— Erika Tamar, author FAIR GAME, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and THE THINGS I DID LAST SUMMER, a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age

“Teens will laugh and cry for Willow as she plunges into a summer of nightmares and unlikely partnerships, especially with Axel – a troubled 18-year-old kindred spirit.”
— Catherine Stine, author of REFUGEES, a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age

“There are just so many great things woven in throughout the novel…music ranging from classical Vivaldi to rock legend Jim Morrison, Shakespeare, and of course New York City. ..But,what I really love the most is the ending… Willow’s voice is honest, and although at times I was overwhelmed by everything she and Axel had gone through, I must say everything they speak and think is teenage realism.”
— Athena’s YA Book Reviews

SAVED BY THE MUSIC was named a top choice on, a YA review site. Here’s what the thirteen-year-old reviewer wrote:
“I loved this book. It was the kind of read that makes you laugh and cry out loud. I felt as though I was part of the story as I read this 280 page book in one sitting … This book made all the emotions of the characters flow to you, and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down.”


The taxi’s spinning wheels spit pebbles and dirt as it left me behind at the marina’s gate. The dusty haze was a perfect fit for my state of mind.
I wobbled across the driveway and into the marina, trying to balance with my heavy suitcase. Sweat beaded under my bangs.
It was unbearably bright, like the sun was aiming right at me. But looking around, I decided that the marina needed all the brightening it could get. Damaged boats lined the gravel-filled boatyard, all of them in dry dock, up on stilts like big crutches—a nautical hospital. Their exposed insides were like my wrecked life. But at least someone cared enough to fix them.
The sounds of saws, drills, and hammers punctured the air as I passed the workers using them. I tried tuning out the men’s jeering whistles.
One yelled out, “Nice ass.”
Another called, “Hey, Slim.”
Some people really got off on taunting strangers.
I crunched though the gravel, kicking up pieces as I moved toward the water. Sailboats, cruisers, and yachts were all tied with rope to the docks.
So where was my Aunt Agatha’s barge? What did a barge even look like?
Aunt Agatha had told me about the barges that kings rode on centuries before, but she’d never actually described their appearance. There didn’t seem to be anything worthy of royalty bobbing about in this marina, at least not anything I saw.
“Over here, Willow!” a scratchy voice called out.
There was Aunt Agatha, waving from the deck of a huge and hideous metal monstrosity. This blows, I thought, doubting there’d be any cable TV on this scow.
My aunt hurried off the vile green vessel, prancing along a wooden plank across the water to reach me.
“What is that ugly thing?” I asked.
“That barge is our future concert hall!”
She couldn’t be serious.

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