Synopsis from Goodreads.
A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . .
CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she’s good at it. But she only sings when she’s alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus’s Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie’s mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she’s visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She’s got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she’s not entirely unspectacular.
ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie’s grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can’t wait to leave their small country town. And she’s figured out a way: she’s won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose’s ticket out.
So I’m treading a bit carefully with this review. Woah… wait… calm down! Before you all yell at me and report me to the YA Powers That Be… I’m treading carefully with this review but it’s not because I didn’t like it.
I, of course, adored it.
I adored it because I have eyes and I can read and… if you look really carefully on the front page you will see that this book was written by Cath Crowley, author of Graffiti Moon and one of the few writers who can take teenage emotions and feelings, bottle them and write beautiful stories that make your voice go a bit croaky if you talk in the ten minutes after you finish them.
But I’m treading carefully with this review because I feel my reasons behind why I loved this book might be a bit different than other people. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I’m a bit wary that I’m about to do the reviewing equivalent of when someone asks “Oh, who did you fancy most in The Avengers?” and everyone answers “Chris Hemsworth” and I say “Mark Ruffalo”*
And there’s a silence.
So let’s try it with A Little Wanting Song.
Which girl did you love most in A Little Wanting Song?
You say “Charlie Duskin”.
And I say “Rose Butler”.
On face value, Rose Butler is a bitch. She’s selfish, she’s horrible, she’s spoilt, she gets her own way, she has a boyfriend who dotes on her, she has an adorable best friend, she’s clever and… well, in any other circumstance I would have switched off.
Charlie was OK but I can’t really imagine being friends with her. This isn’t anything against Ms Crowley’s writing or characterisation, if anything, it was probably because of the wonderful indepth characterisation that lead me to this conclusion. I think in the story, we’re encouraged to like Charlie and feel sorry for her. And I did, but I always knew she was going to end up OK and there was never this risk that she wouldn’t be.
And this is where Rose comes into it. My only criticism with this book is that we didn’t spend nearly as much time with Rose as we should. I often found myself thinking about Rose and her issues when I was spending time with Charlie because I wanted to see if she was going to manage to climb out of the hole she had dug herself.I guess I always root for the underdog and, in this story, Rose was definitely the underdog. While Charlie was a neat character, Rose was messy and tangled and knotted and I just loved that about her. Her wanting seeped out of the pages and there was this sort of restlessness that showed how desperate she was to get where she wanted to be, not caring about the repercussions of her actions and that’s what made her a more interesting character.
She might not always be likeable but it was the raw ache behind her wanting and dreams that I connected with the most.
“Tell me there’s somewhere other than here.”
Hasn’t everyone felt that way at some point?
And also, I think I was a little bit in love with Luke by the end of this book. It was such a wonderfully written and interesting love story. And I find I’m using the i-word less and less when it comes to YA romance, which is ridiculous and sad.
I liked Dave and I thought he was adorable but I don’t know, I think I’d rather spend the day looking for fossils than making mix tapes. But hey, each to their own.
Before I stop rambling, I need to say how much I adored the relationship (no… actually, I’m going to stick with my original word) friendship between these two girls. It’s so rare to find a YA story where there is a genuine friendship or connection between two teenage girls. I sometimes think that YA authors believe that girls can only hate each other or pretend to like each other, which, in my experience, is a load of crap. Not every girl is out to get you or trip you up or sabotage your attempts with a boy.
I loved how these girls might not always have liked each other, but they weren’t catty and mean.
This book is the kind of book that should be read on long journeys down winding country roads, as the setting sun flits through the trees on either side of you.
But failing that, you should read it like I did: cocooned in a duvet, dreaming about your adventures that you’re still yet to have.
*I’m not even explaining this. If you don’t get it, more for meeee!