Sorry for the pause between updates. Not sure why it took me a month to sit down and write this review, but the good news is that I enjoyed Kim Culbertson's Songs for a Teenage Nomad so much that I have no trouble remembering what I want to say about it.
The narrator is 15-year-old Calle, a smart, reasonable teenager with a flaky, unstable mother. Her mother has had short-term relationship after short-term relationship for Calle's entire life, each new man coming with a new city and a new lifestyle. The only man that Calle's mom doesn't seem interested in discussing is Calle's dad, about whom Calle knows absolutely nothing. Songs for a Teenage Nomad opens with the family starting over yet again in Andreas Bay, California.
For the first time in all of their travels, Calle finds a group where she fits. She makes friends quickly, and even though she mostly hangs out with the "theatre kids," she develops a relationship with a popular athlete at school. Naturally, her mom's newest relationship starts to turn sour, and the threat of moving looms yet again. Then a unexpected visitor shows up in Andreas Bay, and Calle's entire world is turned upside down.
Why the title Songs for a Teenage Nomad? Calle loves music -- pretty good music, too. Music is the only thing that she knows will never change, so she keeps a journal of songs and the memories that each song holds. Each chapter of the book begins with a handful of lyrics and a short blurb of Calle's memory of the song. For example, this is the song she and her mother listened to after Boyfriend #7 left. This is the song that was playing when Calle found out they were moving to Nevada. It was a brilliant way for Culbertson to give more background information about exactly how unstable Calle's life had been without boring us with it all in to the first chapter or so of the book.
I really, really enjoyed this book, probably because I liked the connection between the story and popular music. I think particular songs remind us all of a certain time or memory from our lives. I love that Calle keeps a record of it. (The back of the book includes instructions and suggestions for keeping your own journal like Calle's. ) As for the plot, I saw some of it coming just by reading the book description, but don't let that fool you -- there is a lot you will not see coming. :)
There were some very, very eerie similarities between a few random things in the book and my own teenage years. My life was nothing like Calle's, of course, but I'm talking about tiny little circumstances that freaked me out. The first play the drama club does at Calle's new school is Christopher Durang's The Actor's Nightmare. The first play I did in high school as a freshman was The Actor's Nightmare. Calle mentions that she and her friends love the scene in the movie Almost Famous where the characters sing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." My friends and I reenacted that scene in drama class one day... There were many, MANY other examples, some even creepier (bu would require a lot of explanation). I got to the point where I was seriously freaked out a couple of times, but I guess that just means I was meant to read this book.
Definitely a great read, and it's young adult, so recommend it to all the 'tweens and teens you know. Way better than Twilight.
Read from June 28, 2011 to June 30, 2011
PS -- I've been reading George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones for a MONTH. A MONTH!!!!! I'm about 3/4ths done, so hopefully I'll write a review soon. Don't lose faith in me!