Thursday 24 July 2014

Book Review: The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Title: The Sound of Letting Go
Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Publisher: Viking Children's
Summary: For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they're sending her brother to an institution - without consulting her - Daisy's furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for guys like Dave.

But one person won't let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when - and how - to let go?

Review: The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe is a novel that is written in verse. I'll admit it has been quite a while since I've read a verse novel. I love to find ones that are well written, that are more powerful in their use of less words I really feel that's the beauty in verse novels, the choice of words and how the author chooses to tell the character's story. Kehoe did not disappoint on that front. A big issue was tackled here - life with an autistic sibling. I have to be honest, I haven't read very many novels that have tackled the topic of autistic or special needs children. But I feel that The Sound of Letting Go was unique in a few different ways. Firstly, it's written in verse. Secondly, it's not so much about the autistic brother, it's centrally focused on Daisy and the way in which her life has been affected by Steven's autism for many years now.

The writing in this novel was very authentic for me and I could feel myself truly understanding the way that Daisy's life had been molded because of Steven's autism. The small things even as far as her daily routine that she has to change, the way that her friendships are affected. On several different occasions Daisy referred to herself as the third parent in their household and this rang as very true to me. She has just as many responsibilities as her parents, and you could see how much weight had been put on her shoulders to help out.While other teens were going out for pizza, or a movie, or just to hang out with friends... Daisy had to go home and care of her brother. A teenager with adult responsibilities.

The thing about Daisy is that she is a pretty incredible jazz musician. That is one thing that she finds passion in. I love stories where there is a musician (maybe because I am so completely clueless when it comes to making music). The way they are passionate about playing an instrument or singing is how I feel about reading and writing. I don't find many parallels in most other talents, but writing about passion for music is ace. This is the one thing that has been Daisy's and nobody else's. Something that she was able to nurture and have all to herself. But then,  Daisy's parents make a huge decision regarding Steven without even consulting her. They decide that he's become too much to handle and they will be sending him to an institution to be cared for full time. That's when Daisy being good at everything, being an all around good girl and doing everything that she's supposed to do comes to a halt. Why didn't they even consult her or worry about her feelings?

This is incredibly well written and really about letting go (hence the title). What happens when something so drastic in your life changes, something that you have no control over? To me, that's what this book is about. That's what makes this book extraordinary.

I think the only thing that keeps this from being a 5-star book for me is that most of the characters I didn't care that much for. But the one perfect character who put a smile to my case in every single scene was the musically talented exchange student from Ireland, Cal O'Casey. I only wish that he had been in more scenes. I'd love a book about that Irish boy any day!


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