Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review: Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson

After living in twelve places in eight years with her drifting mother, fourteen-year-old Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Fearful of putting down roots anywhere, but armed with her song journal, she moves to her own sound track through a world that bounces her between the school drama crowd, a mysterious loner, and an unlikely boy who will become her first love. But it's the troubling truth she uncovers about her father that forces Calle to face the toughest choice of her young life.

Kim Culbertson technically writes for teenagers, but some grown-ups like her work. Sourcebooks Fire published her award winning first YA novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad (2010, originally Hip Pocket Press, 2007) and her second YA novel Instructions for a Broken Heart (2011) which was named a Booklist Top Ten Romance Title for Youth: 2011. Kim's short fiction has appeared in Cicada, Canary, and The Smoking Poet. When she's not writing for teens, she's teaching them. She's a college advisor and teaches creative writing and English at Forest Charter School in Northern California. Kim wrote her eBook novella The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students who, over the years, have taught her much more than she has taught them. Kim lives in the Northern California foothills with her husband, daughter, dog and rabbit, and drinks more coffee than perhaps she should.
Member, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
Listed Author, Goodreads
Member, Sierra Writers
Kim Culbertson is represented by Melissa Sarver at The Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency:

My Review:

     Chapter and Writing Format:
           I loved the way each chapter started with a memory, giving the reader a better glimpse into the lives of Calle and her parents.

     Descriptions and Relationships:
          The relationships in this book were complicated and unpredictable. In short: the perfect and realistic kind. There was no 'good' or 'bad' person here. There were plenty of people to blame, but those same people were usually forgiven (I forgave them, at least. Whether the characters themselves did is their choice.) And you couldn't really hate any of them because they all had good qualities--every single one.

          It left me crying at the end. Seriously and honestly, if a book makes me cry at the end, I buy the sequel and add another star to the rating.

     Extra likable thing:
          How to make a song journal. First because by the end of the book, you really really want to make your own song book. Second, because the way the author instructs how to make one makes it seem easy enough to do with a classroom full of children.

why it would or wouldn't make a good movie

   Why It Wouldn't:
          Calle explains the same things a lot of times. Showing that interaction on repeat in a movie wouldn't go as well as it did in the book.

    Why It Would:
           The way Calle explains things for the first time has powerful, but simple description. It's easily pictured while still requiring a fair amount of imagination. Also, the soundtrack is bound to rock.

All in All: 5 of 5 stars

if you like this, read Hope Was Here

What happens when a saucy, optimistic teenager and a terrific short-order diner cook head to Mulhoney, Wisconsin? Great apple pie, a killer mayoral election, and a heartfelt story about life in a rural town.

Readers will immediately fall in love with 16-year-old Hope. She has bounced from place to place, serving plates of meat loaf and frittata specials to diner patrons cooked up by her aunt Addie, with whom she lives. Since changing her name from Tulip to Hope, this protagonist always tries to live up to her name, offering readers an uplifting look at politics, love, friendship, and, literally, life, as a waitress at G. T. Stoop's Welcome Stairways diner.

G. T., who is battling leukemia, decides to run for mayor of the town, so his diner, which is perpetually crowded with customers, becomes a hotbed of political activity. It is there that Hope shines as she runs around refilling coffee mugs, soothing customers whose orders have been screwed up, and fielding questions from curious voters. And it is in this small town's diner that she finds what has been missing from her life.

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