Publication Date: September 2010
After living in twelve places in eight years, Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Another new home, another new school...Calle knows better than to put down roots. Her song journal keeps her moving to her own soundtrack, bouncing through a world best kept at a distance.
Yet before she knows it, friends creep in-as does an unlikely boy with a secret. Calle is torn over what may be her first chance at love. With all that she's hiding and all that she wants, can she find something lasting beyond music? And will she ever discover why she and her mother have been running in the first place?
I'm a big music fan with fairly eclectic taste, so when I read about this book it seemed something I would really enjoy. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting as far as the music references go, maybe more of the lyrics that were a part of Calle's journey being included/printed but it turned out a bit different from my expectations. It is a melancholy, bitter-sweet story of not one, but several, troubled teens. It may be overly idealistic in the sense that these kids find strength in each other, which I'm not sure would be an accurate portayal of reality but is a nice thought, if it were to happen, for real, struggling teens.
The images Culbertson invokes at times are beautiful, almost poetic: "He's wearing his grandfather's letterman jacket; the wool is old and soft. Light hangs around the edge of his profile, a force field." (page 55 of ARC) and "The empty house a silent animal curled around me..." (page 97 of ARC). I got a bit lost with some of the musical references which may have detracted from my reading. I've heard of Aimee Mann and Cowboy Junkies, among others, but was not familiar with the songs being mentioned. It took me more than half of the book to understand that the chapter titles are song titles because of those I don't know, even if the musicians named are ones I know and like. It does give me something to research now though.
Calle seems the type that is mature for her age because of her experiences yet still quite innocent, no thanks in part to the lack of communication from her mother's end. It's a tricky balance with kids of being honest with them while trying to protect them from the harsh realities out there. In this sense, Songs for a Teenage Nomad struck a very personal chord with me. I'm raising a daughter on my own and she's already full of questions; I'm dreading the teenage years. I thank Culbertson for showing this relationship with an authentic feel and with insights into both points of view.
In the end, I think this books shows us how parental issues affect our kids deeper than we sometimes realize but I walked away with a feeling of hope; that the past can be dealt with in postive ways. The biggest lesson is to actually deal with it all, not run from it. This is a truly moving story.
I got a note along with my ARC of Songs for a Teenage Nomad from Kim Culbertson giving instructions on how to keep a song journal....where certain songs remind you of times in your life. While I'm not going to share my life experiences here, I thought I would share the soundtrack of my life (to date and certainly not inclusive)
My "Life Soundtrack" includes:
Old Love - Eric Clapton
The Flame - Cheap Trick
Father and Son - Cat Stevens
Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying - Fallout Boy
Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off - Panic! At the Disco
The Weakness in Me - Joan Armatrading
Pornostartrek - Ubiquitous Synergy Seekers
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
My Favourite Mistake - Sheryl Crow
Why'd You Lie - Colin James
Rootless Tree - Damien Rice
Life for Rent - Dido
Black - Pearl Jam
Epic - Faith No More
Heaven - Live
I'd love to hear what songs bring back memories for all of you out there too. Please feel free to share with me!