In the wake of loss, a teen musician struggles to get her groove back.
Susannah Hayes cherishes the long tradition of midnight music lessons in her father’s home studio. Here, along with chord progressions and songwriting, her dad taught her to trust her instincts and her heart. But lately, her dad, a former rock star, has been longing for the past, making it difficult for Susannah to connect with him in the present. When her father dies, any hope of reconnecting goes with him. As proxy, she resolves to locate his former band members, but before she can begin the legwork, financial hardship dictates that she and her mother move away from the life she’s always known. With the move, Susannah finds herself struggling to start over while mourning her loss. A lot happens to the grieving teen over the course of the 400-plus pages, but Smetana deftly avoids overwhelming readers. Susannah has three potential suitors; she fights to come to grips with her mother’s new dating life; she meets the grandmother whom she’d been led to believe dead; and she works to hold onto her best friend from her old life while making music with new friends. Susannah’s first-person narration is punctuated with evocative descriptions of the Santa Anas and the wildfires they bring—characters in their own right. Characters appear white by default with the exception of a love interest with a Latino surname.
A touching, albeit lengthy, story about the painful process of moving on. (Fiction. 15-18)