Singing Songs

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Overview

Anna's mother came home one day, scrubbed the apartment from top to bottom, brushed out her hair, and opened the door to a stranger. He was tall, with a smile that showed too many teeth, and the way he called Mama beautiful made Anna cry and hide. The stranger married Mama and moved in, bringing his family with him - two girls and a boy with gangly limbs, toast-colored hair, and no possessions of their own. So Anna had a new family and found that her life contained a new and forceful presence: Richard. Shaped by ...
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Overview

Anna's mother came home one day, scrubbed the apartment from top to bottom, brushed out her hair, and opened the door to a stranger. He was tall, with a smile that showed too many teeth, and the way he called Mama beautiful made Anna cry and hide. The stranger married Mama and moved in, bringing his family with him - two girls and a boy with gangly limbs, toast-colored hair, and no possessions of their own. So Anna had a new family and found that her life contained a new and forceful presence: Richard. Shaped by an exacting cinematic sensibility, Singing Songs explores how one family lives, centerless, caught in a flux of emotion and violence that touches and transforms each of its members. Nomadic and insular, Anna's family follows the shifting sands of temporary employment, fleeing from social workers, schools, and nearly all the conventions of society. Anna makes pets of barn owls and a fawn, and paints radiators with her hands during a summer work trip on the road. She pretends fiercely, imagines grandly, and when Richard comes upstairs at night for "kissing lessons," she winds herself and her sister tightly in a sheet, cocoon-like, for protection. And gradually, with all the force of innocence and a fierce loyalty to herself, Anna seizes pieces of the world as her own. Singing Songs is the masterful realization of a young girl's journey to adulthood in a chaotic, abusive, and fragmented world; an affirmation of a child's ability to use her judgment and imagination alone to light her way. It is the story of a strange and beautiful metamorphosis and a profound statement about the dark and secret places of family life.

A masterful realization of a girl's metamorphosis into womanhood. The author, nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Agnes of God, brings the depth and sensitivity that have marked her acting career to this chronicle of a young girl trapped in a family twisted by love and longing and caught in a cycle of abuse and denial.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sometimes creativity blesses twice: Tilly, an actress best known for her portrayal of Chloe, the luminous young lover of the recent suicide in The Big Chill , has written an impressive first novel. Fashioned in short, cinematic vignettes, the story is related from Anna's bravely innocent point of view, which expands as she grows from a preschooler to a preteen. Anna lives with her large family in a variety of squalid locations, finally settling on an island in the Northwest. Her Radcliffe-educated mother, deserted by her well-to-do husband, has become a careless slut; she has married an older man who turns out to be a ``layabout,'' a child-beater and -molester. Anna's many siblings, blood and step, try to make it against these terrible odds, while Anna herself struggles unsuccessfully to cushion them from her stepfather's brutality and lechery, fiercely tries to protect herself from a number of sexual assaults and attempts to wrest some comfort from her overwrought mother. The young girl finds solace in the natural world: in a pet fawn who briefly lives in the bathroom and in baby owls who ride her shoulders. She revels in having her own room (a pantry closet) and proudly learns to shoplift. In retaining Anna's artless and natural voice, Tilly gives her credibility. Anna's clear-eyed perspective, generous nature and fighting spirit will make readers wish her success--but the novel's irresolute, troubling ending hardly promises a brighter future. (June)
Library Journal
Tilly, best known for her performances in feature films (Agnes of God, The Big Chill) here debuts as a novelist. The heroine of the story is Anna, one child of many growing up in a househould characterized by violence and abuse. The chapters read almost like short stories, with the time and locale changing as the family moves from place to place. The children are removed from school, beaten, and forced into incestuous relationships with most of their male relatives. Their occasional triumphs are heartening but come too rarely to offer any real hope for their future. Yet they try to protect one another from their stepfather, and their mutual love is touching. This is a promising first novel, and author recognition may create demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/94.]-Kathy Ingels Helmond, formerly with Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. at Indianapolis Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780929636627
  • Publisher: Syren Book Company
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Tilly
Meg Tilly
Formerly a film actress, Meg Tilly is best known for her roles in The Big Chill and Agnes of God — for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as an Academy Award nomination. Tilly is the author of two adult novels, Singing Songs and Gemma, and is currently at work on her second YA novel, Lucky. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2006

    Great and Disgusting

    This book was written so well, I read it in a day. Tilly is very capable of writing from a childs point of view and painting a most disturbing picture of abuse. I would not advise the faint of heart to even attempt to read this book. At first the ending bothered me but I appreciate being let to choose what the characters future might be. This book makes you look at abuse and all its ugliness and reminds me to be thankful for my 'normal' childhood and that my kids haven't been subjected to such atrocities.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2006

    Heartbreaking and Amazing!!!

    This is a beautiful and moving book. I've read this book twice now and both times was amazed at how Meg Tilly captures the voice of childhood. She grabs you from page one and doesn't let go. She is a wonderful writer who seems to be able to set you right down in each scene, lets you experience the difficulties and challenges and triumphs of the main character, Anna, first hand. I highly recommend this book, both times I read it, it moved me to tears. And, as it turns out, I just discovered from reading in People Magazine that much of this book is autobiographical (which is only more heartbreaking).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2006

    Read this one.

    Very good book. I read it in 3 days. I would recommend reading this one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2005

    A very sad book.

    I finished reading this book recently and it made me feel very depressed b/c of all the abuse the girls when the through the whole family was so sick. It was painful to read it. It really was. Her writing is good but I thought it could have been better, I also didn't like the foul language in it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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