★★★★★ Searching for Roy Buchanan by Tory Gates tells the story of three siblings living in Japan who lose their parents in a train wreck one fateful day. Kenji, the eldest, has inherited the family landscaping business, and with it, the majority of their financial problems as well. Hiro, the middle sibling, has had trouble dealing with the death of his parents and instead of seeking help from his siblings, has retreated even further into himself. Stuck between them is their younger sister, Aki, who discovers she’s inherited an ability called “the Amida Syndrome,” which allows her to travel through time. The only problem is that she has no idea how to control it! As Aki begins to explore the mystery of her gift, the siblings come into contact with figures both near and far—as well as past and present—who will affect the course of their lives forever.
Gates is known for writing emotionally effusive fiction, but nothing to date has quite reached the same heights as Searching for Roy Buchanan. In a story that recalls other stellar works for young adults like A Wrinkle in Time, Gates explores the inner and outer lives of three young people affected by a profound loss. More than that, though, is the way the author uses music as medicine, showing that even across cultures, there are methods of conveying emotion that carry the same—or similar—meaning for wounded hearts navigating troubled waters. Still, the story never loses its sense of connection to the real world, and carefully keeps the futures of its main characters in mind, even while hurtling them through space and time. Accessible and affecting, this novel is especially recommended for music lovers of all ages.