CHANGING TUNES by Donna Jo Napoli


Age Range: 10 - 12
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A ten-year-old girl confronts the reality of her parents’ divorce in this bittersweet novel from Napoli (For the Love of Venice, p. 584, etc.). In the wake of her parents’ recent separation, Eileen is prepared for her father’s things to be gone, but is stunned to discover the piano missing as well. This is just the latest change: With her mother working full-time, Eileen arrives home after school to an empty house, and sees her father only every other weekend. In spite of the riot of anger and sadness within her, Eileen just can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Stephanie, that her parents have split up. The only thing that seems to be the same, the one constant in Eileen’s chaotic experience, is her piano practice sessions, which now take place in the auditorium after school. During these sessions, Eileen befriends the kindly janitor, Mr. Poole, who tells Eileen that even though his family was poor, he enjoyed playing the piano—and the one song he knew—when he was a kid. Eileen realizes that she can’t control the family she was born into. Eventually, she starts to work out the anger and pain she feels toward her parents, and finally shares the truth with an extremely sympathetic Stephanie. Although the structure of the novel, shifting between piano practice and the rest of Eileen’s life, seems a bit inelegant and contrived, Napoli succeeds in creating a reassuringly bewildered character in Eileen. (Fiction. 10- 12)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-45861-1
Page count: 130pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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