Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: Songbird by Angela Fristoe

Songbird by Angela Fristoe

Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing (May 31, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0615470498
Source: ARC tour from Teen Book Scene
Cover: I think this cover is lovely. I wasn't really sure how music fit into this novel but after reading it, I understood and could totally see it. I like all the muted, flesh-toned colors.
First Sentence: "I was six when Jace died."

Mini-Review:Equal parts beautiful and melancholy, like a swan Songbird sings.

Book Summary:

There are defining moments in life when everything changes. For Dani Mays, it was the day she witnessed her father kill her brother. Now seventeen years-old, she still hasn't put it behind her. 

After Jace's death, she bounced between her alcoholic mother and foster homes, until she found a permanent place. And a reason to stay: Reece Tyler He's her best friend, yet Dani wants more from Reece. 
Faced with possibly losing Reece, Dani struggles to define his place in her life and escape the memories of her brother's death and the influence it has over her choices. Even as she weaves the pieces of her heart back together, the past becomes more than a memory when a former foster brother reappears and Dani begins receiving threatening phone calls.
Book Review:
Grief and growth combine in Songbird to weave a heartbreaking tale of one girl organizing the pieces of her broken life. Utilizing both the past and the present, Songbird is filled with all of the high and low notes in Dani's life. Dani's physical and emotional journey is gripping and realistic and the three boys that love her are entrancing.

After seeing her father kill her older brother at six, living off and on with her alcoholic mother and being tossed from foster family to foster family, Dani is struggling to reconcile all of her grief from the past. Each day is a constant reminder of the hurt she;s suffered and Dani is finding it hard to get out of the past long enough to live this life she has now. As a reader, I really wanted things to look up for Dani. At the same time, I did grow frustrated with her when she wouldn't make things better for herself. She has a major crush on her friend Reece but can't imagine telling him. While I understand this, I wanted her to take charge of her life since so much of it before had been reacting to awful situations she was put it. When she finally does, her voices rises into one of the most beautiful crescendos I've encountered.

I don't envy Dani her choice between Reece and Colin. Reece has been there for Dani since she moved in with her permanent family. He's been her biggest supporter and her protector. But he's also never noticed her the way she notices him until homecoming. But after, he gets weird. At first, Dani really doesn't like Colin but she gets to know him and all that changes. Colin can very easily shift into the hole that Reece leaves in her life. I liked that the boys were both good choices and that Dani doesn't have an easy time figuring out what's right. While Dani does make some poor decisions getting ot her final one, I understand all the reasons behind them and have to say that I'm not sure I'd have done anything differently if I was in her place.

And then, of course, there is Jace. He's a physical presence in the novel even though we only get him in flashback. Dani's transformation through is directly related to her grief at the lose of her brother and "normal" life without him. While the switch between past and present was a little jarring sometimes, it worked well to really make the reader understand Dani's sorrow and the trials she had to face. I wish the mysterious phone calls had been in the novel a little earlier and with more variety to spice up the plot more but the story was far more about Dani dealing with her demons. Ms. Fristoe approaches the subject with tenderness and is easy to read.

Songbird is a touching debut about loss and life after. Dani's journey was a pleasure to go along with and the past and present merging into the story was an effect tool for showing the reader the demons she keeps. If you like stories that deal with sorrow and song, this is definitely one not to miss!


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