illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler. 160p. bibliog. Groundwood. Apr. 2019. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554989720.
RedReviewStarGr 5–8—Two months before middle school graduation, Charlotte (Charlie) Noguchi and the rest of class 8C have one final assignment—to find the soundtrack of their lives, a song that has meaning for them. Their music teacher Mr. K introduces them to different styles, including metal, pop, rap, jazz, emo, and opera. Yellow tones dominate these sections of the book with realistic, detailed, eye-catching art and cross hatching that adds dimension. Breaking up the main plot, Charlie shares her story from behind the empty desk in her class. Yellow switches dramatically to blue for flashback scenes. A lone desk is shown in the middle of the panel framed by Charlie's hair, giving it the appearance of theater curtains parting. Luka, with his long shiny hair and beautiful singing voice, left school after singing a song to Emile. Charlie seems to like Emile but is also worried about Luka and hopes he'll come back to school. Colored in red, Charlie also discusses famed opera singer and diva Maria Callas. Drawn to her music and life story, Charlie researches Callas for her final project. A bibliography with further reading about the singer is included at the end of the graphic novel.
VERDICT Brimming with raw emotion, music references, and gorgeous art, this memorable and relatable graphic novel will linger with readers.

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