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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*The Lost Songs* by Caroline B. Cooney- young adult book review
Also by Caroline B. Cooney:

No Such Person

They Never Came Back

If the Witness Lied

Hit the Road
The Lost Songs
by Caroline B. Cooney
Ages 13+ 256 pages Delacorte October 2011 Hardcover    
Caroline Cooney’s latest contemporary fiction book for teens includes aspects of mystery and suspense, revealing secrets, and developing characters who both frighten and fascinate. The Lost Songs is the story of four Southern teens whose separate lives become intertwined.

The central character, Lutie, is popular and an exceptional singer. Doria is the new girl at school; also a talented musician, she is having difficulty fitting in. She is infatuated with Kelvin, a friend to all who eats a little too much and is not very interested in achieving in school. The fourth teen, Train, is a disturbed and angry young man, always trying to live up to the image of his brother, who is now in prison for blinding a boy.

Lutie lived with her grandmother until she recently passed away. Her grandmother knew and sang all the “lost songs”—undocumented songs of slaves and working black women. Now Lutie splits her time between her two successful aunts.

The story begins when Lutie skips school to visit her mother, Saravette, a drug-addict. Saravette tells Lutie that she has broken all ten commandments. Lutie construes this account to include murder.

Back at school, a music professor approaches Lutie through her choir director, pleading for the opportunity to listen to Lutie sing the songs and write them down. Lutie considers the songs to be her family’s personal property and refuses to share them.

Doria always feels forced into the background as an accompanist, but this day, Lutie takes her under her wing. Friends forever with Kelvin and as a young child with Train, Lutie includes Doria with her group.

When Doria lets it slip that she practices organ alone in a local church, Train suddenly becomes very interested. Lutie and Kelvin both warn and try to protect Doria of the impending danger, but she is new. Unaware of Train’s reputation, she does not see a threat.

A religious theme permeates the book. All the characters are Christian, and prayers to Jesus, church and mission work are part of their lives. As the teens lives come together, the story reaches a climax answering the questions about both Saravette and the lost songs.

In The Lost Songs, the reader will fall in love with some characters and fear others. We are invested in their lives, wanting so badly for everything to turn out right yet knowing it can’t possibly happen.

The message is not preachy or didactic; rather it focuses on the power of prayer, caring for one another, hope for the future, respect for the past, repentance and forgiveness. As always, Cooney’s books are a great choice for reluctant readers, grabbing the reader’s attention and never letting go.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Kristine Wildner/2012 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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