Charlie Duskin lives and breathes music. At least, she does when she’s alone or taking lessons. She’ll talk music with people, but playing guitar or singing in front of them is impossible except for her mom or Gran even though she is not entirely without talent. Charlie doesn’t mind so much because music can be enough most of the time–especially during a summer in the country surrounded by old ghosts and locals who want nothing to do with her.
But Charlie also wants more. She wants a friend. She wants someone, maybe Dave Robbie, to look at her the way Luke looks at Rose Butler. She wants her dad to notice her. She wants to show everyone she’s not entirely unspectacular. Especially Rose Butler.
Rose lives next door to Charlie’s grandfather. She watches cars drive through town on the freeway and tries to keep her reckless boyfriend out of trouble. She’s mad about science. And she wants out of her nowhere town so much that it hurts.
After winning a scholarship to a school in the city, Rose might finally have her way out. If she can convince her parents to let her go. If she can convince her parents she has a responsible friend to stay with in the city. If she can befriend Charlie Duskin and convince her to take her back to the city. It’s brutal, but brutal’s what it is.
Charlie and Rose have nothing in common but by the end of the summer they might help each other get everything they’ve been longing for in A Little Wanting Song (2010*) by Cath Crowley.
This book was so amazing.
Told in alternating voices, Crowley has created two strikingly unique narrators with completely individual voices and a stunning story with humor and wit. As Charlie and Rose tell the story of their summer the narratives overlap and intertwine coming together to create a story about friendship and longing and ultimately about optimism as they both realize the world is theirs for the taking.
Written with a lyrical style and interspersed with lyrics from Charlie’s songs, A Little Wanting Song is a fast read but its prose and story will linger with readers for much longer. Truly, this book will not disappoint. Highly recommended.
*2010 is the date of the first publication of this book in the United States. This book was originally published in 2005 in Australia under the title Chasing Charlie Duskin. I haven’t seen the Australian book but from the cover images and the actual text I’m comfortable saying this is one of those moments where the American repackaging was really spot on. The book’s American cover and design capture the essence of the book in a way book design usually doesn’t. The title, I think, is also much more appropriate for all of the characters and the story itself. The original title works, but A Little Wanting Song fits.
Possible Pairings: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, , King of the Screwups by K. L. Going, Reuinted by Hilary Weisman Graham, Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson, Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, After the Kiss by Terra McVoy, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot, Love, The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Harmonium by Vanessa Carlton, Wreck of the Day by Anna Nalick
Exclusive Bonus Content: I know I’ve been harping on book design a lot lately but this one also has a really cool design. The cover has flowers and scroll work as well as paint splatters. Inside the book the narration is split between Charlie and Rose. Charlie’s segments (and her songs) are denoted with the the flowers and scroll work while Rose’s have the paint splatters. The spine also has the scrolls and flowers when you remove the dust jacket. Anyway it’s all really well put together.