Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: The Lost Songs, Caroline B Cooney

 The day Lutie Painter takes the city bus north instead of the school bus west, cutting class for the first time ever, her aunt and uncle have no idea what she is up to. They cannot prevent her from riding into danger.
     That same morning, Lutie's pastor, Miss Veola, whispers as always, "This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
     A block from Miss Veola and up a hill in Chalk, Train Greene, thin and hungry, burns with anger. He has a decision to make, and he's running out of time.
     A few miles away, among finer houses, Kelvin Hartley yawns and gets ready for another day at school, where he is a friend to all and makes an effort at nothing.
     And Doria Bell, who recently moved to the South from Connecticut, walks to the bus stop, hoping the high school kids who live nearby will say hello.
     All of these lives intertwine and—in surprising ways—become connected to Lutie's ancestors, who are buried in the cemetery in Chalk. Who would have dreamed that the long-dead Mabel Painter, who passed down the Laundry List songs to her great-great-granddaughter Lutie, had passed along a piece of American history that speaks to so many who feel lost and need hope. Big changes are in store for all, and things will never be the same.
     In this luminous novel, Caroline B. Cooney delves deeply into a Southern community. Cooney reveals the comfort, inspiration, and hope its members draw from the power of faith, the glory of music, and the meaning of family.  Goodreads 

The Lost Songs isn’t at all what I expected from Caroline B Cooney. It doesn’t have a dark mystery, defy-the-odds romance, or shocking plot twists. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. It is very well written, and a touching story. I loved that the story is written from so many different perspectives, yet it isn’t at all confusing. It just flows naturally. The way that the same songs touch so many different people in different ways is a great testament to the power of music. (Spoken like the band-nerd I am) The scenes are beautifully written, and I had a tear come to my eye more than once.

My only complaint is that I did not connect with the main characters very well. Lutie frustrated me most of the time, mainly because our personalities just clash. I spent several chapters wanting to shake some sense into Doria, but she grew on me in the end. Oddly enough, I felt the strongest connection to Train, the aspiring gangster, which is about as far from me as humanly possible. His character scared and disturbed me, but he felt very real.

I recommend this book to anyone with a love of music, Cooney fan or otherwise. It is a short read, and well worth the time.

4/5 stars.

YA notes: Mild gang violence

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