CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 21. . . .February 6, 2015
The Frail Days. (Orca Limelights).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2015.
119 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0464-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0465-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0466-1 (epub).
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
The music starts inside the audition room. It’s “Already Gone,” a super-schmaltzy song, but one that definitely needs a good singer. Tamara turns her ear toward the door as one of the Fants starts singing.
“Remember all the things we wanted…”
Crap. She sounds pretty good.
I watch Tamara’s face. She has a little frown of concentration. Not upset or anything, but she definitely notices the singer’s voice.
“Hmm, someone’s been taking lessons,” she says. “I wonder who her teacher is.”
“You’re better than her,” I say automatically. It’s true and everything, but I say it without even thinking.
Stella is a 16-year-old drummer in a band with Jacob who plays the guitar and Miles who plays the bass. They need a singer whom they believe they have found when they hear Tamara sing the national anthem at a baseball game. Tamara had been singing in a girl group but, believing that she doesn’t have the image that they want, has left the group. At first Stella isn’t sure that Tamara will take the band in the right direction. They are edgy, original and rock and roll. They decide to compete in the Summerland Music Festival, but they know that their music will not be favoured by the conservative judges.
Through the experience, they are not selected for the festival, but they gain a manager who appreciates their original songs and a local following. Also, as a band, they learn what collaboration truly means, and they come together with a sound that speaks for them and who they are.
The 119 pages are divided into 12 chapters. The dialogue is authentic, and the vocabulary is varied, interesting and appropriate for the intended audience. Characters are realistic, and the plot is believable. The theme of performing and finding a voice is well explored in this novel. Even though they are not successful in their original intent, things work out because they stay true to what they want as a group. The name of the group, "The Frail Days", comes from their search for this identity. They learn to communicate and support one another.
The Frail Days would appeal to a variety of readers, including readers of music, relationships and realistic fiction. As well as being an excellent addition for personal, class, school and public libraries, The Frail Days would be a fine choice as a class novel for individual reading particularly for the older ages in the intended audience.
Deborah Mervold, an educator from Shellbrook, SK, is now doing faculty training and program development at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. She has extensive experience as an English teacher and teacher-librarian.
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