I LOVE Nashville, and I love featuring debut authors, so I’m really excited to share Kate O’Shaughnessy‘s The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane (March 2020, Knopf Books for Young Readers) with you today! O’Shaughnessy’s middle grades novel is full of love and a sense of adventure.
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane features May, who lives with her mom in Louisiana and shares her mom’s passion for music. When they are listening to the radio one day, he comes over the speaker. He being May’s dad. When she asks her mom about him, May is told only that he will only break her heart. But that does not stop May from entering a music contest hosted by her dad’s radio station. In Nashville.
The results of her secret entry into the contest are an unexpectedly heartwarming RV journey with her neighbors and an understanding that life may not always work out how we want it to but may work out how we need it to.
May is a talented singer but finds out having a voice means so much more than singing. She comes into her own on the road, with her neighbor Mrs. Boggs, who also teaches Language Arts at her school; Tommy, a boy whose stepmom abuses him; and a puppy. Sounds and images of the South permeate this book, a travelogue of sorts for middle school readers.
There were times when I felt that too many topics were covered in the text and other times when I felt that the author’s voice was coming through more than May’s. But, nevertheless, I found myself really invested as the story unfolded.
I appreciate O’Shaughnessy’s honest depictions of life. Her characters go endure heartbreak, loss, and abuse, but also love. Lots of love. And that’s, ultimately, what this middle grades novel is all about. The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane earns four stars. ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️
And if you’re looking for another middle grades book that features a road trip, check out Nic Stone‘s new middle grades novel Clean Getaway, which I hope to review soon!