Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
The Song Reader Paperback – May 1, 2003
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Two sisters, Leeann and Mary Beth, have the debut novel The Song Reader firmly in their grip. Author Lisa Tucker seems almost entranced by her main characters, a teenager and her older sister whose mother is dead and father has disappeared. They've put together a cheery and eccentric life in their small midwestern hometown. Mary Beth--beautiful, empathetic and smart--practices an art she calls song reading. Clients come to her and tell her the songs that are stuck in their head, and she decodes the song to help them with their problems. Says her little sister Leeann, the novel's narrator: "She could take a customer who had all kinds of problems--poverty and family quarrels and lost love and even illness--and point her finger at the one thing that, if they found it and dealt with it, would give them the strength to handle all the rest." Leeann sees Mary Beth's song reading--and everything else about her sister--as admirable and glorious. But Mary Beth's gift leads her to a secret truth about a prominent neighbor, and the fragile structure of the girls' orphaned life comes tumbling down. Each secret seems to domino another until the sisters' whole complex emotional history is laid bare. The Song Reader can be a little willfully twee with its wacky characters and unlikely scenarios, but Tucker has so thoroughly imagined her protagonists' psychological workings that the book exerts an undeniable pull. --Claire Dederer
From Publishers Weekly
Tucker's assured debut novel is an achingly tender narrative about grief, love, madness and crippling family secrets. Preteen Leeann Norris introduces readers to her world: recently orphaned when her mother was killed in a car accident, she lives with her older sister, Mary Beth, who supports them by waiting tables and performing "song readings" for locals in their small Missouri town. Rather than reading palms to tell people's future, Mary Beth analyzes the songs stuck in their heads, explaining what the song fragments reveal about her clients' psyches. The plot device is fascinating, but what cleaves the reader to the page is the relationship between the two sisters-one determined to track down their long-missing father, the other equally resistant to looking at the past. When Mary Beth's song reading uncovers a local scandal, the community turns against her, and her resolve to help those around her crumbles. Leeann must become the stronger sister, and her quest to find their father finally succeeds, though not in the way she'd hoped. Tucker's dexterous portraits of the fragile family dynamics expose quirky and compelling characters. Her expertly sprung revelations will surprise readers. This intoxicating debut may remind them of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides, but it's not lost in their shadows.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Tucker's story winds around the "gift" that big sister Mary Beth has been given in a small southern town. Mary Beth, a waitress raising her younger sister and a small adopted son, is a caretaker by nature. She discovers a unique talent, "reading people's lives". Unlike a fortune teller, MaryBeth talks to others about the songs that are important to them, and have been important to them throughout their lives. Mary Beth does "readings" and keeps charts on everyone who comes to her for help, and her advice, gained through an analysis of the lyrics that keep popping up in a client's head at odd moments. To Mary Beth ..."I have a calling in life" .. and her help is usually so on track that a large following in their little town relies on the premise that their own songs are not random, but rather that they have meaning just waiting to be uncovered; something that, it seems, only Mary Beth can do.
It's an interesting premise, and it is background music to the story told by LeeAnn, Mary's Beth's adolescent sister. To LeeAnn, the gift inspires others and puts their little family in the heart of the town....
"... wishing I could go back to when the music was like a spirit moving through our town, giving words to what we felt, connecting us all."
As the tale unfolds, parallel secrets about a prominent town citizen are uncovered through song reading, leading Mary Beth's reputation to tarnish, and her spirits to unravel. At the same time, secrets of their own family -- why their father disappeared, and what role their deceased mother played, are covered up by Mary Beth, who thinks that she is sheltering LeeAnn from knowledge that will hurt her.
Eventually, unhinged by the responsibility for both the family and the town's opinion, Mary Beth begins to fade, and it is then that LeeAnn takes over the indomitable spirit that has kept them going for years.
Although based on a unique and whimsical premise, Tucker's book is really about relationships, the bond between sisters, and about never giving up, no matter how difficult the terrain of your life. Tucker writes lyrically and well, bringing each and every character to life, including the mystical father figure, who finally comes to be a part of their lives again. Both sisters in the tale finally find the one thing, the love between the two of them, that will give them "the strength to handle all the rest".
I so look forward to more from this author, and highly recommend this lovely debut.