Somebody Everybody Listens To

248p. 978-0-52542-242-6.
Gr 7 Up—You don't have to be a fan of country music to fall in love with Retta Lee Jones and her inspiring quest to be a country singer. Supplee avoids the oversentimental star-crush often typical of wannabe stories by creating honest characters one might meet in any hometown: anxious parents, stranger turned guardian angel, boy-next-door, fun best friend, young men and women chasing dreams. After graduating high school, Retta Lee stakes everything she has on moving to Nashville to break into the music business. Each step forward, however, seems to take her two steps back—back toward a sad family life and the boy she had a crush. Moving forward toward her dream becomes elusive after her fragile support system falls apart through no fault of her own. But Retta Lee doesn't give up. She reminds herself of the country artists she's admired all her life and takes inspiration from their trials and tribulations and eventual success. Supplee opens each well-paced chapter with a brief profile of popular singers, providing continuity and interesting tidbits about the royals of country music. Retta Lee's innate kindheartedness; her aspirations in a highly competitive field, always tempered with good old commonsense; and her burgeoning talent make her an immensely likable and believable character who steadfastly follows her dreams in a world often inured to such high hopes.—Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
After high school, plucky Retta heads to Nashville to pursue her country-music-singing dreams. Bad luck, usually in the form of car troubles, slows her down, but with help from crusty and quirky characters hiding hearts of gold, she begins to make progress. Though the drawl-y dialogue can be borderline cutesy, readers can't help but wish for Retta's success.

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