A Little Wanting Song
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.
Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose's "little wanting song" is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.
With A Little Wanting Song, Cath Crowley has won herself a place on my shelf of favorite authors. Every word she writes is beautiful and melodic; her imagery is rich and authentic. I don’t highlight my books, but I’m tempted to do that very thing with this book. I’ve been absolutely blown away.
In any book that I put on my favorites shelf, nine times out of ten, the deciding factor is prose. Is a book quotable? Does it sound like a half-cousin to a prose poem? In any potential daydreams, would I like to pretend that I wrote this book? A Little Wanting Song answers all three of those questions with a resounding yes. The copy I read was from the library, but when I get my hands on my own copy (and I will be buying this book), I’m sticking in a lot of paperclips/scraps of notebook paper. I am in love with Cath Crowley’s words. I got a hint of her talent in Graffiti Moon, but I felt that it sort of puttered out toward the end. Definitely not the case with this book. Crowley went strong from start to finish.
A Little Wanting Song is also intensely real. Genuineness practically radiates off of the pages. This book isn’t about a high schooler who falls in love with a mysterious boy in her second period, and it isn’t about horrifcally abused girl who’s strung out and homeless. Rather, the two narrating characters, Rose and Charlie, are real people with real (but not life-threatening) problems. The reader watches them form a friendship and tackle every day obstacles. For me, it’s always been that outward simplicity that sells me on a book.
My only problem with this book lies in the similarity between Charlie and Rose’s narration. Dual first-person novels are always hard, because the author has to make her own style separate enough to work for two distinct personalities. Cath Crowley only barely managed to accomplish that in Graffiti Moon, and I’m afraid that in A Little Wanting Song, she didn’t manage it at all. When I was really into the text (which was most of the time), I didn’t exactly pay attention to the chapter headings, which indicated “Rose” or “Charlie”. Mild confusion was the regrettable result. I don’t think, in the long run, it was a big deal, but it did affect my enjoyment of this book a teensy bit.
Looking at this book in the big picture, I have to be honest and say I loved virtually every page of it. Books about friendship are so much more powerful than ones about romance, especially when the characters are teenagers. Who’s to say that the boy you love at 16 will be the man you sit next to at your youngest grandson’s graduation? On the other hand, a strong, lasting friendship tends to be more permanent, and by extension, a book that deals about that topic also tends to hold a more permanent place in my affections.
A Little Wanting Song was an amazing book about truth and loyalty, written by a woman who obviously knows what she’s doing. It’s the kind of book that you hold your breath while reading, and when you get to the final page and break the surface, you only want to dive in and experience the story all over again.
I've been waiting quite some time to read this. Good things come to those who wait? Yes, indeed they do.
The writing is absolutely fantastic. The story is the perfect kind of story telling that makes me grateful to be alive. Charlie and Rose are very relateable, and Dave is simply adorable. The music aspect to this book is what sold me in the first place. It reads like my very own thoughts.