Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

Title: A Little Wanting Song

Author: Cath Crowley

Pages: 228

Received from: author/pub


Charlie Duskin loves music, and she knows she’s good at it. But she only sings when she’s alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus’s Secondhand Record Store. Charlie’s mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she’s visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She’s got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she’s not entirely unspectacular.

Rose Butler lives next door to Charlie’s grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke, but can’t wait to leave their small country town. And she’s figured out a way: She’s won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose’s ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship and romance, Charlie and Rose’s “little wanting song” is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.

Charlie is a motherless outcast with one friend in the world and a talent for music. Every year she and her father head on down to the country. But this years different. This year, she is in the wake of her grandmother's death. This year, everything seems to be worse then it used to be. This year, her only friend is growing away from her and her life is becoming more and more of a solo act. She expects to do what she has always done during these vacations; play music and watch the three best friends that have coinhabited this place with her for as long as she can remember.

Rose, Dave and Luke have been friends forever, Rose and Luke dating just as long. While Luke spends his days getting himself in trouble, Rose and Luke follow, despite their own weak protests. They're bored with their small town, Rose's urgent narrative displaying clearing the claustrophobia, the pure hatred for anyone who makes her stay and anyone who can leave. She throws rocks at cars heading out.

Her only shot at freedom his science, her best and favorite subject. She's been excepted to a prestigious school in the city where Charlie lives full time, and she thinks that if she has a nice, level-headed friend there, her mother would let her go. So she initiates.

I'll admit it, if a book has the word "song" in it I will usually buy it without restraint. So when I heard of this little gem, I immediately sought out the author and pretty much shamelessly begged for a review copy. I am monumentally glad I have no shame, you guys.

I immediatley fell in love with Charlie, who couldn't verbalize anything unless it was put to music, and couldn't let anyone hear her music unless they, like, changed her diapers, so that basically makes her voiceless to most everyone. She was one of those girls who inexplicably fall off the radar, and she made no attempt to remedy that. She just goes with it, silently observing, tormented by the thought that not even her best friend can be around her for too long. In short, she was Everygirl.

I also loved that she loved Nathalie Merchant. I loved that.

Rose took me a while. She will probably take you a while, too. Instantly her narrative is in stark contrast to Charlie's; bitter, restless, clipped as though through clenched teeth. Her anger assaults the reader like a slap in the face after a chapter or two in Charlie's chill musings. I thought I would hate her, because I hate whiners, I really do. I hate narrators who whine and whine and whine but never in the course of the plot attempt to do something about it. But then I realized that, no, Rose is not a whiner. She is angry, she is trapped, and she just wants to get out--but the most important part is that she's trying, like someone with a brain. She is not those stupid "smart cause i said so" girls. You can feel her intelligence with every odd geophysical fact she offers. I loved her friends, how Dave nonchalantly told her how it was and I loved how Luke was not the typical troublemaker boyfriend who gets his girlfriend in deep shit. He actually contributes, he has character, I liked him.

Crowley has a talent for character development. She created two similar, rounded characters without them at all sounding alike, which is a miracle in and of itself, since that virtually never happens. She has given every character a reason to stay relavent, to grab the readers sympathies. And she has done this all in a very readable way. An excellent offering from a talented bish.

Rating: 8 out of 10


Emma said...

This looks great. I love your review and the cover is quite pretty.

Liviania said...

I hadn't heard of this one, but it sounds good. I like alternating points of view.

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

This sounds like something I might like -- I am a sucker for great character development.

Greengreenandpink said...

my TBR pile just seems to grow and grow...

looks great!

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