March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Bellweather Rhapsody

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A mystery that takes place during a high school music festival set in an old resort hotel during a snowstorm? The Bellweather is certainly less terrifying than The Overlook of The Shining fame, but it holds its own secrets–especially room 712.

In the introduction to her novel’s playlist on Largehearted Boy, Kate Racculia shares that she played the bassoon in high school, and attended the New York State School Music Association All-State conference. It was an uneventful year, but her novel definitely isn’t. She describes it as, “a mystery, a comedy, a ghost and a love story … it’s stuffed full of band nerds and conductors, CD wallets and Discmans, crushworthy college a capella clubs, orchestral performances, one hellacious blizzard and one missing, possibly murdered, flute prodigy.” In that same interview, she explains how she conceived of her novel as a piece of music in four movements. Your teen musicians are really going to love this one!

As Mark mentioned on Wednesday, we are on a roll with starred reviews this month. Sometimes a year just hits its stride. I look at my TBR pile of late summer/fall titles and think this is very, very promising year for AB4T. 

Speaking of which — come back on Monday for our annual Best of the Year So Far list!

RACCULIA, Kate. Bellweather Rhapsody. 352p. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. Tr $25. ISBN 9780544129917. LC  2013026339.  Bellweather Rhapsody e1403183740244 Bellweather Rhapsody

Rabbit Hatmaker has been working towards one goal for years: making it to Statewide. The typically reserved small-town high school senior is thrilled to unpack his bassoon for the first time at the prestigious music conference with peers from around New York. His twin sister, drama queen and vocalist Alice, hopes her second year affords her the chance to be a social butterfly and show others the ropes. But neither knows about the murder/suicide that happened 15 years ago at the festival’s Catskills venue, the faded Bellweather Hotel, in the very room to which Alice is assigned. At the weekend’s outset, Rabbit gains instant popularity by speaking up to the arrogant orchestra conductor, while Alice is left in the shadow of her famous roommate, a preternaturally talented flutist and daughter of Statewide’s notorious director, diva Viola Fabian. ­­When that roommate goes missing (Alice swears she saw her hanging from the ceiling pipes) and a snowstorm bears down, tensions heighten as long buried secrets and sublimated desires are forced to the surface for those gathered in the sprawling, atmospheric Bellweather. Racculia tells her multilayered coming-of-age/mystery/suspense novel from a variety of viewpoints, successfully intertwining the haunted past of the world-worn adults with the hopeful future of the gifted teens. Laced with dark humor and remarkable insight, this smart page-turner offers an insider’s look at the competitive nature of high school music performance, the higher stakes professional world, and the complex relationships that lie within both.—Paula J. Gallagher, Baltimore County Public Library, MD

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Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.

Empowering Teens: Fostering the Next Generation of Advocates
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