No Sad Songs

216p. Fish Out of the Water. Feb. 2018. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780989908740.
Gr 9 Up—A story of a young man's accelerated journey of self-discovery. Gabe LoScuda is an average teen. Not popular but not a loner either, he navigates high school with his mind on basketball practice, hanging out with his best friend John, and figuring out how to ask out the prettiest girl in school. When his parents take an overnight trip to Atlantic City to celebrate their wedding anniversary, what was meant to be one evening of caring for his grandfather, who has dementia, turns into forever. Gabe wakes to a phone call that changes his life completely, finding out that his parents have died in a car accident. He is meant to care for his grandfather, but this is a full-time job that he cannot manage on his own. When his uncle insists on helping, Gabe has no other choice than to accept the offer. His uncle proves to be an alcoholic unable to watch his grandfather and becomes another person Gabe has to look after. Morelli phenomenally portrays the teen's angst and struggles. Although the subject matter is heavy at times, the author uses humor to keep the story going. Readers will be engaged with this unique novel written with chapters that alternate with Gabe's essays and memories.
VERDICT This coming-of-age tale is a must for any YA collection.

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