The Sound of Letting Go

The Sound of Letting Go

4.5 2
by Stasia Ward Kehoe
     
 

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For sixteen years, Daisy has been good.  A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly.  A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best

Overview

For sixteen years, Daisy has been good.  A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly.  A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad.  She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave. 
 
But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal.  Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy?  Should she side with her parents or protect her brother?  How do you know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go? 

The Sound of Letting Go is deeply moving, fiercely honest, and always surprising. Stasia Ward Kehoe’s characters are so real and complex, you won’t want to let them go at the end.  I loved this book!”—Barbara Dee, author of Solving Zoe, This is Me From Now On, Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life, and Trauma Queen
 
Achingly beautiful, The Sound of Letting Go takes readers down a dangerous path while touching the heart and encouraging hope.”—Elana Johnson, author of Possession, Surrender, and Abandon 
 
“Told in verse that is at once delicate and strong, lyrical and honest, Stasia Kehoe’s The Sound of Letting Go is a moving contemporary story of the intense push and pull between the responsibility of family and the freedom of dreams.”—Jessi Kirby, author of Moonglass, In Honor, and Golden 

“With captivating verse and a lyrical love story to match, The Sound of Letting Go will keep you hanging on, breathless and enchanted, until the very last page.”—Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess, Ten and the forthcoming 3:59 and the “Don’t Get Mad” series

Soulful and stunning, this book has captured my heart. It’s one of those tragic melodies you never want to end, a tribute to the damning and redemptive power of music.”—Jessica Martinez, author of Virtuosity and The Space Between Us

 “The Sound of Letting Go draws you honestly into the turbulent ambivalence of life with a severely challenged sibling, while never short-shrifting Daisy's individual coming-of-age journey.  The music of Stasia Kehoe's beautifully flawed characters will resonate in your mind long after you finish reading her book.”—Elise Allen, author of Populazzi, co-author of the Elixir series with Hilary Duff

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/09/2013
Kehoe’s second novel-in-verse, after 2011’s Audition, movingly evokes the conflicting emotions of 17-year-old Daisy Meehan as her family teeters on the edge of falling apart due to her younger brother Steven’s violent episodes. A skilled trumpet player, Daisy has used music as a means of escape from her chaotic home life for years. However, her parents, burdened by caring for Steven, “who has morphed from challenging autistic boy/ to dangerous, nonverbal near-man,” are unable to give her the support she needs. Now that they are considering placing Steven in an institution, Daisy is torn, craving a respite from being Steven’s “third parent,” but also dreading the hole in the family his absence would leave. Daisy’s increasingly large acts of rebellion undermine her chance to cultivate a friendship with a foreign exchange student who shares her passion for jazz. Instead, she turns to an old friend, who is no stranger to family conflicts. This painfully honest portrait of a family in crisis raises questions about love, responsibility, and self-sacrifice as it moves gracefully to a difficult but realistic resolution. Ages 12–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE SOUND OF LETTING GO:

"This painfully honest portrait of a family in crisis raises questions about love, responsibility, and self-sacrifice as it moves gracefully to a difficult but realistic resolution." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"An intriguing medley of music, teen romance, high school life and serious family issues." —Kirkus

"This realistic portrayal of a family nearly torn apart by crisis will interest fans of romance, music, and drama." —School Library Journal

"...a coming-of-age novel with a romantic backdrop, The Sound of Letting Go ranks among the best in its genre." —VOYA

"...poignant..." —BCCB

“Sharp, painful emotions come alive in flowing verse. Long after the notes fade, this book won’t let you go.”—Corrine Jackson, author of If I Lie

PRAISE FOR STASIA'S FIRST BOOK, AUDITION:

"Sara's coming-of-age tale is one of passion and romance, colliding with her vision of whom she ultimately hopes to be. Her confused feelings are believably expressed and her attitudes toward her friends and the adults in her life will ring true, especially to...readers who are also involved in the performing arts." —School Library Journal

"The author, who has a performing and choreography background, stages Sara's dance world clearly through her spare verse, from ballet moves and body aches to studio drama... readers will empathize as she struggles with everything from sore shins to Rem's fickleness and whether she wants to continue dancing." —Publisher's Weekly

"Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones will enjoy this cautionary, detail-oriented look at the backstage world of the ballet and cheer for Sara as she finally makes her own decisions about her commitment to dance and her future." —Booklist

"...the pages turn quickly once the reader gets into the rhythm of the words and Sara's story. Kehoe can turn an evocative phrase, like the way she describes the "encrusted hairspray" of the dancer, or the minimalist way in which she describes a dancer's eating disorder..." —Huffington Post

VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Ursula Adams
Being a teenager is never easy, especially when you are living with a violent, autistic brother. This is a major problem that Daisy Meehan must face in this coming-of-age, first-person narrative account. Daisy is an honor student and an extremely gifted trumpet player in her high school band. Opportunities abound for her acceptance into prestigious music programs. However, life with her autistic brother, Steven, has caused major turmoil in her household, drifting her parents away from each other and from her. She has always been there for Steven, but she begins to feel guilty about always having to adjust her life for him. To complicate matters, she becomes romantically involved with her childhood friend, Dave, who has adopted a bad-boy attitude. Meanwhile, Irish exchange student and baritone saxophone player Cal has expressed more than a musical interest in Daisy. Kehoe writes poetically with proselike verse. The style makes it a fast read. The book consists of thought-provoking yet concise chapters, many only one page or less in length. Kehoe does an excellent job of delving into Daisy’s feelings and insights as she wrestles through many problem-filled situations. For a coming-of-age novel with a romantic backdrop, The Sound Of Letting Go ranks among the best in its genre. Introspective and at times heart wrenching, the book will have a wide appeal for many female teenage readers. Reviewer: Ursula Adams; Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Laura Beckham
Change…nobody likes it but we all go through it at some time or another. When it happens to Daisy Meehan’s family, she does not handle it well at all. Daisy is furious when her parents plan to place her erratic autistic brother in a group home. She decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits doing all the things she loves to do, including playing the trumpet, one of her passions and her release from the frustrations. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks off in school, and then falls for bad-boy Dave, a boy of whom her parents would never approve. Daisy’s increasingly large acts of rebellion undermine her chance to develop a friendship with a foreign exchange student who shares her passion for jazz. Instead, she turns to an old friend, who is no stranger to family conflicts. This painfully honest portrait of a family in crisis raises questions about love, responsibility, and self-sacrifice as it moves gracefully to a difficult but realistic resolution. Reviewer: Laura Beckham; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 7 Up—Daisy Meehan is the kind of daughter who makes her parents proud. She is studious, a musical prodigy, and sacrifices her social life to help out with her brother, Steven, who has a severe form of autism. But when Daisy's parents decide to institutionalize her increasingly violent brother, she revolts. She quits band and starts dating the local bad boy. Kehoe's verse novel is a raw look at conflicting emotions and the healing power of music. Readers will be immersed in Daisy's battle between relief and guilt as she comes to terms with the fact that her brother will be separated from his family. She feels trapped in the quiet, careful household created to appease Steven, and her tension is alleviated at the idea of living without her brother. Daisy must then confront her own guilt over her feelings. Kehoe explores the power of music as it heals not only Daisy's pains but calms her brother's violent outbursts. This realistic portrayal of a family nearly torn apart by crisis will interest fans of romance, music, and drama.—Tiffany Davis, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-27
"Change...is scary." And family breakup is never easy. Learning that her parents plan to place her unpredictably violent autistic brother in a group home, accomplished trumpet player and responsible older sister Daisy Meehan experiments with bad behavior in her junior year in high school, trying to figure out how she feels about it. Is this freedom? Does she want it? The author of this moving story underscores her point as Daisy and exchange student Cal O'Casey work out a fictional autobiography of a newly freed slave for an AP history class. Has Daisy's family been enslaved by her autistic brother, now big and frighteningly strong but still nonverbal? Will Cal, also a talented jazz musician, be a slave to his family's business back in Ireland, or her old friend–turned-boyfriend Dave Miller to his family's straitened circumstances? What does/would 13-year-old Steven want? As she ponders the dissolution of her own family, Daisy also considers her friends' parents' divorces. Families come apart in many ways and for many reasons, but in a small New Hampshire town, most everyone knows what's going on. Written in short lines of free verse and short chapters, this accessible narrative moves along quickly and believably, ending satisfyingly without suggesting that all has been resolved. An intriguing medley of music, teen romance, high school life and serious family issues. (Fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670015535
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/06/2014
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
612,887
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

My mother keeps things organized.
Our lives in labeled albums,
Our showpiece house in designer paint colors
Vacuumed, swept, so pretty that if you just looked
You might want to come inside.
But if you listened,
You’d hear another story:
Incomprehensible wailing,
Shouting, urgent phone calls,
CryingYou'd want to ask if a monster
Lived in our house.
 
I am not sure how I'd answer.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE SOUND OF LETTING GO:

"This painfully honest portrait of a family in crisis raises questions about love, responsibility, and self-sacrifice as it moves gracefully to a difficult but realistic resolution." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"An intriguing medley of music, teen romance, high school life and serious family issues." —Kirkus

"This realistic portrayal of a family nearly torn apart by crisis will interest fans of romance, music, and drama." —School Library Journal

"...a coming-of-age novel with a romantic backdrop, The Sound of Letting Go ranks among the best in its genre." —VOYA

"...poignant..." —BCCB

“Sharp, painful emotions come alive in flowing verse. Long after the notes fade, this book won’t let you go.”—Corrine Jackson, author of If I Lie

PRAISE FOR STASIA'S FIRST BOOK, AUDITION:

"Sara's coming-of-age tale is one of passion and romance, colliding with her vision of whom she ultimately hopes to be. Her confused feelings are believably expressed and her attitudes toward her friends and the adults in her life will ring true, especially to...readers who are also involved in the performing arts." —School Library Journal
 
"The author, who has a performing and choreography background, stages Sara's dance world clearly through her spare verse, from ballet moves and body aches to studio drama... readers will empathize as she struggles with everything from sore shins to Rem's fickleness and whether she wants to continue dancing." —Publisher's Weekly
 
"Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones will enjoy this cautionary, detail-oriented look at the backstage world of the ballet and cheer for Sara as she finally makes her own decisions about her commitment to dance and her future." —Booklist
 
"...the pages turn quickly once the reader gets into the rhythm of the words and Sara's story. Kehoe can turn an evocative phrase, like the way she describes the "encrusted hairspray" of the dancer, or the minimalist way in which she describes a dancer's eating disorder..." —Huffington Post

Meet the Author

Stasia Ward Kehoe grew up performing on stages from New Hampshire to Washington, DC. She holds a BA in English from GeorgetownUniversity and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University. She now lives in western Washington State with her husband and four sons. Stasia's novels include Audition and The Sound of Letting Go.

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The Sound of Letting Go 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ShyR More than 1 year ago
Awesome book!
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
When we received a package from Penguin, and one of the books included was The Sound of Letting Go, which I haven't heard of before, I decided to pick it up. When I read the synopsis I knew this was a book I wanted to pick up. Only when I sat down and opened the first page did I find out it is told in verse! Through my almost three years of blogging, I've never read a verse book. For some reason I always stay away from them but I decided this is a message from somewhere that I need to sit down and finally give verse books a try. I am so glad I picked it because I had a totally misconceived idea about what verse books are. I really enjoyed this way of storytelling and boldly say The Sound of Letting Go will not be my last verse book. Now to the actual review. Daisy, the main protagonist, was a very likable character. I totally sympathized with her as well as the difficult situation she is in. Everyday she would go through an emotional roller coaster: She resents her brother for their situation.. then she feels guilty for him because she loves him.. he's her brother.. but does making him her brother mean that she has to love him? then she goes back to feeling guilty of thinking about that. Add in how she always feels like the third parent instead of a junior in high school. I just felt so bad for her. She wasn't whiny.. if you thought she was. Put yourself in her shoes and I'm pretty sure you would have been worse than her.. I know I would. One thing I would like to point out is that the synopsis is very misleading. I was waiting for her rebellious stage to start and it did, sort of, 200 pages in. Also the whole thing about the exchange student being the light in her dark world? that never really happened.. he wasn't even much present in the novel. I think this novel is more about Daisy and her thoughts, emotional monologues, as well as how she copes with what she is currently going through. It is 400 pages but don't let that intimidate you, I read it twice as fast as normal books because of its verse style. I definitely recommend it to contemporary fans, especially ones who have never read a verse book before. I am now very excited to pick up Kehoe's previous verse novel, Audition.