Krista Ashe's Reviews > Songs For A Teenage Nomad

Songs For A Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson
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's review
Oct 09, 10

bookshelves: my-110-of-2010-books
Read in October, 2010

** spoiler alert ** What's not to love about a book that starts off with a quote from Bob Dylan? As someone who loves to use songs for everything from mood music while writiting to using song lyrics to teach figurative language in classroom, I have never really read a book that used music as such a part of the setting to where it's almost another character. The closest would be Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, I suppose.

You have the character of Calle who has criss-crossed through the state of California with her mom. They've never lived in one place long, and her mom is also one whose also had several boyfriends and several husbands for them to move away from. But in their latest town, Calle actually hooks up with a group of theater friends: Eli, Alexa, and Drew. And for the first time, she's happy and likes it in a place. She's also intrigued by Sam, a football player who shows signs of being anything but the typical jock. And in those moments when he can get away from his A-crowd friends, he talks to Calle, works on a project with her, and ends up kissing her. Then he gives her the cold shoulder. But you can't hate Sam too much because there's a lot going on at home. First, we're led to wonder if his dad is an asshole, then his mom's an alcoholic, and then we find out the sad truth that she's mentally ill, and Sam is taking the brunt of caring for her.

In the midst of all this, Calle comes across a picture of her father--the one that was supposed to have left her and her mom when she was just a baby. A desire burns in her to find out about him, and she tries an internet search. Then when she's digging in her mom's drawers, she finds letter from her father to her. She finds out her dad's last name isn't Smith but Winston. When she confronts her mom about it, her mom says her dad wasn't someone they should be with. Then later Calle discovers a locked box, and inside, there are newspaper clippings where her dad had been arrested.

Later on as she's at a coffeeshop, she runs into her father, and they have a talk. He's everything she always dreamed he would be. She doesn't tell her mom about meeting up with him. And when he tells her a few days later he has to leave town, Calle is sure she'll never see him again. A couple of days or weeks later, she comes home to find her dad talking to her mom, or fighting. Turns out, he was a drug dealer, and has been on drugs all these years, and that's why Calle's mom has always been running from him. When he starts to hurt her mom, Calle comes in and tells him he should leave. Calle's mom tells her they have to pack and leave, but Calle refuses. She says it's always been about her mom, and she wants to stay.

Backtracking here some, but there's a great scene at the dance when Eli and Calle go as friends and Sam doesn't like them dancing together, so he shoves poor Eli. But Sam continues to have problems being with Calle, until he finally tells her that he likes she's different from everyone else and he wants to be with her, but it's just been hard for him. We also find out that Cass, the rebel, wild child of a girl at school, is Sam's half sister....she turns out to be a great friend and support of Calle.

Okay, so I've rambled long enough in this review, so let me wrap it up. At the end when Calle and her mom are going to have to leave town, they come upon a wreck. Someone plowed into a tree, but there's no skid marks. It's Calle's dad. The last few paragraphs of the book are GUT WRENCHING! A friend of Calle's dad's brings her stuff of his, and there's a journal just like she keeps and in it he talks about how proud he is of her, that he's seen her places, and to top it all off, there's a recording of him singing Mr. Tambourine Man, a song Calle always hears in her dreams and thinks of her father singing. AUGH, I was in tears!!!
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