“Music Box” by John C. Houser—Speaking Up


Houser, John C. “Music Box”, Dreamspinner Press, 2014.

Speaking Up

Amos Lassen

I am sure that all of you are aware of the rise of bullying in this country and it is good to see that writers are now using it as a theme in their stories. Bullies chase Jonah Winfield and when he gets to the front step of Avakian Music, the owner, Davoud Avakian, steps out and offers Jonah safety at his shop, The Music Box. The fact that Jonah is gay does not matter to Davoud but it certainly matters to some of the students at Jonah’s school. He is teased and tormented daily and when it turns to violence, Mr. Gaston, Jonah’s music and favorite teacher steps in. He wants to take the bullies to the principal.

There is a problem, however, and it is about money. There are budget cuts coming at the school and Gaston’s job is already on the line. He wants to speak up for Jonah but he knows it might cost him his job. He also cannot force Jonah to do something. He must gain Jonah’s confidence because only through cooperation will he be able to gain Jonah’s confidence and preserve the haven he has found at the Music Box.  There is a bit of a problem at the Music Box as well, however. The store has been in Davoud’s family for generations and now Gaston and Davoud must find a way to make it profitable as it hinges on bankruptcy. This is a story that shows how everyone can lose if things do not improve and it is so good to have a story that is based on reality. It is well written and I really enjoyed the character development.