Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Review: Songs For a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson

Title: Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Author: Kim Culbertson

Pages: 256

Received from: author.


What is the soundtrack of your life?

After living in twelve places in eight years, Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Another new home, another new school…Calle knows better than to put down roots. Her song journal keeps her moving to her own soundtrack, bouncing through a world best kept at a distance.

Yet before she knows it, friends creep in—as does an unlikely boy with a secret. Calle is torn over what may be her first chance at love. With all that she’s hiding and all that she wants, can she find something lasting beyond music? And will she ever discover why she and her mother have been running in the first place?

Calle has moved more times then she can count on both hands, following her mother's fancies (and boyfriends) all throughout California state. Their latest move, with new husband Rob, is at the beach town Andreas Bay. As her freshman year begins, Calle is perfectly prepared to mind her buisness and wait out the inevitable divorce. On the first day, unfortunatly, she inadvertably makes friends--and not just one friend. An entire group of them. Theatre nerds to the core, dramatic and oddly welcoming of her quirks (including her tendency to whip out her song journal at a moment's notice). What's worse is that she seems to be getting pretty cozy with popular mega-jock Sam. At the same time, she finds herself getting uncomfortably close to the mystery that is her father, whom her mother claims left them when she was two days old (not that Calle believes this or anything.) With this, she is getting closer to all the things she's ever wanted---OR DOES SHE?

I think a major deciding factor in whether I read a book or not is the role music plays in it's plot. That isn't to say I only read music-related books--that would be ridiculous--but it's fair to assume that anything with the word "song" in it's title will end up a must-read for me sooner or latter. It's just how I role.

On this front, "Songs" was certainly not dissapointing; every chapter begins with excerpts from Calle's song journal. The story itself is spattered with obscure music references (though I don't know how obscure Ben Harper is--didn't he marry that chick Billy Bob Thorton dumped for Angelina?). Albeit, these references felt a little empty in context, not really playing any cruical role in the story or any role, for that matter, but this isn't enough to ruin a book. Naw, the flatish characters and deux-ex-machina ending took care of that shit.

A lot of characters were introduced pretty quickly, which I think was Ms. Culbertson's major fault. Within the first two chapters, we had an entire group of people with their own unique, flamboyent personalities to remember. A hard task for the reader, and certainly a hard task for the author, seeing as she forgot half of them by chapter four. What's worse is that the characters she did keep around, save for the adorable Eli, were so completly devoid of depth that I couldn't even get a mental image of them as I was reading. They were blobs, you guys. Gray blue blobs with blonde hair. Yet Calle apparently knew something we didn't, as she was dumping her entire life story on these blobs at a pretty excellerated speed for someone who had just frikken met these blobs blobs BLOBS. It got to the point where all the information Calle shared about her father felt so unimportant and frankly undeserved because she had been, you know, sharing it with anyone who would listen for two hundred something pages. For someone who goes on and on about being a socially awkward, intensely private person, she seems pretty LOOSE AT THE LIPS, WORD?

But I can't even find major fault in this. Culbertson eventually found her footing and was well on her way to redeeming herself towards the very end, making our Love Interest interesting enough for the whole lot of them and weaving a tragic and slightly hopeless finale that would have resonated for quite sometimes except, ohshit, SHE FLIPS IT ON IT'S FUCKING BACK LIKE A FUCKING TURTLE AND FUCKS UP THE WHOLE THINGS SO HARD I STARTED CRYING FOR WHAT COULD HAVE SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED GODDAMN.

I don't want to spoil it for you. I truly don't. But tere's a car crash. A magical car crash that was anticlimatic and unearned and disapointing. And gah.

I began this review thinking I would be way nicer then all that but, in true ranting fashion, this is what it became. I'm sorry to Ms. Culbertson who I undoubtebly hurt deeply, but I just can't, especially considering how fantastic her story could have been.

Rating: 4


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