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You Have Seven Messages

You Have Seven Messages

4.1 62
by Stewart Lewis

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A smart, heartbreaking mystery about unexpected love, art, family, and finding yourself.

It's been a year since Luna's mother, the fashion-model wife of a successful film director, was hit and killed by a taxi in New York's East Village. Luna, her father, and little brother are still struggling with grief.

But when Luna goes to clean out her mother's old


A smart, heartbreaking mystery about unexpected love, art, family, and finding yourself.

It's been a year since Luna's mother, the fashion-model wife of a successful film director, was hit and killed by a taxi in New York's East Village. Luna, her father, and little brother are still struggling with grief.

But when Luna goes to clean out her mother's old studio, she's stunned to find her mom's old cell phone there—charged and holding seven unheard messages.

As Luna begins to listen, she learns more about her mother's life than she ever wanted to know . . . because the tidy tale she's been told about her mother's death may not be the whole truth. With the help of Oliver, the musically gifted boy next door, Luna won't stop until she finds answers. But what else will she find along the way?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A year after Luna's mother was killed by a cab, 14-year-old Luna, still aching from grief, discovers her mother's cellphone with seven voice mail messages, all with clues about the truth about her mother's life and final moments. From the start, adult author Lewis (Relative Stranger) anchors Luna as independent and self-aware (perhaps overly so), but the promising beginning erodes, as Luna's grief takes a backseat to her search, which starts to feel melodramatic as Luna suspects her mother was having an affair. The already manufactured and implausible premise becomes even less believable after Luna's father gives her an old-fashioned camera for her birthday. Luna photographs Daria, a model she met while traversing New York City to follow up on clues, after which Daria secures a one-woman show for Luna, an agent promises Luna a book deal, and a photo-shoot with the New York Times and a trip to Italy follows. This is due in part to Luna's famous parents, but the book's credibility suffers, making Luna difficult to connect or empathize with. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Caitlin Augusta
Fourteen-year-old Luna accesses her mother's cell phone messages to discover the circumstances of her death. She receives assistance from her precocious brother, Tile, and her cello-playing boyfriend, Oliver. As Luna unveils the facade of her parents' marriage, she also develops as a professional photographer. There is something of a fairy tale quality to Luna's Upper West Side Manhattan life. Her father is a renowned film director, and her mother was a model. Luna's attempts to understand and forgive others make for a slightly surreal coming-of-age novel. Luna's tribulations, including grieving, a clueless boyfriend, and traitorous friends, will endear her to teen readers, as will her unrelenting nosiness. Luna's first-person narration, however, seems too mature for fourteen ("Every girl at this table will probably stress about food and weight when we're older, but why do it now?"). Some of her unvarnished statements blink like road signs that readers cannot possibly miss ("I cannot listen to them [the messages] right away, and if I do, maybe only one at a time.") The dramatic tension and the plot are misaligned. When Luna discovers her mother's affair, that feels like the climax of the book. Yet the subsequent backstory draws out the conclusion and makes it difficult for readers to acknowledge Luna's emotional closure. While the boyfriend plot will sell this story to readers, it seems untethered, an artificial foil to Luna's mother's decisions. Structural issues aside, Luna's journey will pique teen interest, as will the supporting cast of characters. Reviewer: Caitlin Augusta
Children's Literature - JoAn Watson Martin
When Luna loses her mother in a traffic accident, her life changes drastically. Her family lives in Manhattan's Upper West Side and her mother was a beautiful, much sought after, model. As Luna searches for clues for what happened the night her mother died, she feels compelled to protect her little brother. Her father insists she forget it and move along with her life. He buys her an old style camera to start her on a career as a professional photographer in hopes she will not realize he is lying. She recruits her boyfriend, Oliver, to help her solve the mystery of where her mom was and who she was with that night. When she spots Oliver kissing her former friend, she thinks their relationship is over before it begins. She longs for her mother because she could have talked to her about Oliver. Finding a red cell phone under her mother's bed, she decides it might be easier to handle if she will listen to the seven unheard messages one at a time. She fears she is not ready to face everything at once. As she listens to one message after another, she feels as if she is getting closer to the TRUTH. But does she really want to learn about that night? Her mother's brother, Richard, and Julian invite her to Italy and help her accept that no one is perfect. They have saved a box of her mother's things for her. Most fourteen-year-old girls will consider Luna lucky to have the trust of her father, credit cards, and a driver on call. What more could a girl want? The author offers an unusual mystery that pulls the reader through, hoping to solve the challenge of the seven messages on a cell phone. Reviewer: JoAn Watson Martin
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Luna's mother has been gone a year now—killed suddenly when she stepped in front of a taxi. And while the teen and her brother, Tile, are still trying to make sense of life without her, Luna comes across her mother's cell phone and discovers seven unopened voice messages. Luna listens to them and discovers secrets about her parents' relationship, including a clandestine affair. Her pain eases somewhat as her interest in photography, along with the gift of a camera from her father, sends her out into the city taking pictures and leads to her first gallery show. But with the growing understanding of the circumstances surrounding her mother's death also comes a growing awareness of herself as an individual, not just the daughter of two famous people. She feels stirrings of a first love when she meets her neighbor Oliver. He is dealing with issues of his own, from a domineering father to a former girlfriend who wants to end his new relationship with Luna. A solo trip to Italy to visit her uncle and his companion gives her the time and space she needs to resolve her feelings toward her father, Oliver, and her loss, and she discovers that sometimes the answers you want are not exactly the ones you find. The hook of the unopened phone messages ties the various story lines together nicely. With its realistic portrayals of love in various relationships and the theme of developing one's sense of self, the story will appeal to older readers.—Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.04(d)
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt



I may be fourteen, but I read the New York Times. I don't wear hair clips or paint my cell phone with nail polish, and I'm not boy crazy. I don't have a subscription to Twist or Bop or Flop or whatever they call those glossy magazines full of posters of shiny-haired, full-lipped hunks.

Whatever you do, don't call me a tween. That makes me feel like I'm trapped in some adolescent purgatory where I get force-fed Disney-themed cupcakes while watching Hannah Montana reruns—that stage is over. Who came up with that name, anyway? I bet the person who came up with the name Hannah Montana gets paid a quarter of a million dollars a year and drives a Lexus. My cousin could've come up with a better name, and she's five and rides a tricycle.

I grew up in Manhattan on the Upper West Side, and when I was really little, I thought my driver was my father. He'd take me to school every day and make sure my shoelaces were tied. Sometimes he'd let me listen to NPR while he chatted with the doormen. He seemed to know them all, a secret society of men in pressed black coats standing as straight as the buildings they protected. But of course, he wasn't my father. My real father is a film director who was at the height of his career when I was born, which is why he was never around. He was always shooting in places like Africa, Japan, Australia, and Canada. Now some critics say he's washed up, but I think the reason people become film critics is because they failed to be film directors themselves. I don't usually feel famous myself, but I went to the premiere of his last film (the one that supposedly washed him up) and a couple months later there was a picture of us in Vanity Fair. My overenthusiastic English teacher, Ms. Gray, cut out the picture and taped it to the whiteboard. At first I was thrilled, but then I felt weird about it. I ended up sneaking in after class and bending the page so that you could only see my father, with his shiny face, his jet-black hair, and those wire-thin glasses that always seem to be sliding off his nose. He's the one who should be recognized. He literally spends years putting actors, writers, cinematographers, editors, studios, and locations all in a big blender until his movies pour out smoothly onto the screen. All I did that evening was walk next to him and carry the cheat sheet for his speech.

My little brother, Tile, was too young to come to the premiere with us or have his photo taken. When my mom was pregnant with him, the only thing that helped her nausea was lying on the cold Spanish tile in our townhouse bathroom, so that became his name. Everyone calls him Kyle by mistake.

My uncle, a professor who lives in Italy, gave me a small book of Shakespeare's sonnets for my tenth birthday, and sometimes I read Tile my favorite ones. Even though he's ten, he pretends to understand them. I think he just likes the musical way the words go together. Tile is a good listener, and he leaves me alone pretty much every time I ask him to. If a genie said I could wish for any little brother in the whole world, I would stick with Tile. He smells nice and never talks with his mouth full. He also keeps my secrets.

Here's one: I know I told you that I'm not boy crazy, mostly because boys are dirty and unpredictable, but there is one I've had my eye on since I was eight. He is very clean. He lives across the street and our drivers are friends. He goes to a school somewhere outside the city. I like to imagine it's an exotic place like Barbados, but it's probably in Westchester. He's only said ten words to me in seven years. Sometimes when I read Shakespeare's sonnets I think of his big mop of strawberry curls, and the way he swings his book bag in wide circles.

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,

Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground

He's one year older than me, and his name is Oliver. He walks with a peculiar grace, almost like he's floating. He also plays the cello, and he's so good at it that when I listen to him through my bedroom window, the tiny hairs on my arms stick up.

Sometimes I lie on my bed imagining the music was written just for me, coming in through the window as a personal serenade. Music sounds better when you close your eyes.

Meet the Author

STEWART LEWIS is a singer-songwriter and radio journalist who lives in D.C. and western Massachusetts and frequents New York City.

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You Have Seven Messages 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Luna is a teenager who lives in Manhattan. She has the world at her fingertips, and has some serious dislikes when it comes to snooty girls who, frankly, give her a headache. She's not into the 'tweenish' stuff like make-up and boys, she is actually quite a loner. Luna loves her little brother and her big-time movie director father, but the one thing that is hurting her more than life is how much she misses her mom. Luna's mom was a stunning model turned writer, who was also a great friend. Unfortunately, her mother stepped off a curb one evening and was hit by a car, and Luna can barely deal with the world. She loves her Dad, however, and wants him to be able to date and find a way to have a life, and doesn't get mad when he begins a relationship with a quiet, unassuming teacher. What Luna does do is she heads to her mother's studio to clean the place up; spend some time in the location where her mother loved to be as she did her writing and spoke with all her ex-model friends. What Luna finds, however, is something she was definitely not searching for - her mother's past. There is a cell phone that has seven messages that her mother never heard, and Luna begins to listen to these messages one by one. In her own personal life, Luna is enchanted by the young man she sees across he street. There, in the window, is a handsome young man who is constantly playing his cello, and Luna can't seem to take her eyes off him. When she gathers the courage and meets the cello player named, Oliver, Luna soon finds her heart racing at the speed of light. Oliver, thankfully, isn't like all the other moronic boys; he is a strong, caring person that Luna really begins to care for. He is also the young man who hears all about the seven messages and helps Luna try to figure out her mother's past, the secrets that were buried there, and what really happened the night she died. There are a slew of characters in Luna's life that readers will fall for, and they'll like Luna as well, even though at times she can be a bit snooty herself. The writer has put together somewhat of a mystery, wrapped in a romance, embedded in a girl's struggle to live her life in the aftermath of an accident - discovering secrets that she wished had remained secret. Quill Says: A good YA with a solid plot that touches on many teenage issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all the mystery and romance and suspence. Kind of like a burrito
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first read the summary, I was intrigued about this book. It reminded me of the movie PS, I love you. When I read this book, I thought the story was cute but the writing was just okay for me. I won't say I'm disappointed in the book but I wouldn't say you HAVE to get this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually started reading this book a few years ago, and didnt really like it at first, but when I stared re-reading it this year, i loved it! Im not sure what changed, but I really really like this book. I would like to hear more about what happened with her and Oliver. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing and well written! It is a great combination of mystery and a little bit of romance! Fantastic book!!!
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
Luna is a sweet girl, someone that tweens will be able to relate to. She's at that stage where she's turning into a girl and developing an interest in boys (well, one particular boy), but she's awkward and not very confident in herself. It takes searching for the truth of what happened the day her mom died and meeting people who crossed paths with her mom for Luna to come to terms with her identity and what she wants to do with her life. This was all I could glean of her character, however. I feel as though I didn't really get to know Luna in relation to the other characters. Most of the story is filled with internal ruminations and Luna going from one place to another in search of the truth about her mother. There were some characters that I liked in particular: Daria and Tile. Daria is a super-cool model who helps Luna sort out her feelings and gives her the womanly support Luna lacks in her life right now. Tile is the sweetest little brother ever, wise for his years, though he often talks using the cheesiest movie lines ever. It adds to his charm. Oftentimes, the dialogue felt forced and poorly written. I had trouble seeing people say some of the lines the way that they do. It didn't feel natural. I also found it odd that Luna would only listen to one of the messages at a time and then spend so much time trying to figure out what happened to her mom. This is a big deal to her, yet she's finding time to take photographs and move on with life at the same time that she's listening to these messages. I know that life goes on, but it's pretty strange to me that Luna is able to do all these things while there are messages waiting for her to listen to them. While Luna gets the closure that she needs over her mother's death, she learns that her family wasn't the perfect unit she always thought it was. This is something that we all find out sooner or later--that our parents aren't invincible, that they're human too and make mistakes. I never had to deal with such a big blow as Luna has been dealt with, but it's still a part of life, finding out your parents' flaws and learning how to deal with it and respond to it. It did feel as though the cheating aspect was a bit overdone with what happens with Oliver later, and I found it hard to believe that Luna could forgive so quickly. While Oliver is the romantic interest and spends a lot of time helping Luna with the mystery behind the seven messages, I didn't feel as though I got to know him. What he does to Luna is really uncool, and his explanation seems more like an excuse and is really flaky. It wasn't until I started thinking over all this that I rated this a 2 stars. I did enjoy reading this book while I was reading it. However, there are so many little pieces that don't add up at the end. I'd recommend this for pleasure reading if the plot intrigues you, but I wouldn't recommend it for keeps.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok so heres te deal its a great book in general but it is pretty slow ar the begenning and it needs a little more sparks and OMG DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN just saying : D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was good but the ending wasnt like i thought it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book just swept me of my feet and open me to a new world with a girl still sufferng from the unexplained death of her mother. As she finds her mother cellphone with seven unread messages she starts to find the answers of her mothers mysterious death. Also while unreaveiling the messages she comes closer to her lifetime crush cello boy named oliver, the boy across the street. She then learned to forgive and understand how to forgive and hold a grudge especially if the person is dead!!!
jennjenn55 More than 1 year ago
this is my favorite book its truely amazing i reccommend it with any who has had to struggle
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should read this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the idea of story. A girl finding out the truth of her mom's life. The girl's mom dies and while she's cleaning her studio she finds her mom has seven unheard messages on her phone. I reall liked how that sounded, but then came the most random romance. Authors, they DOES NOT NEED TO BE ROMANCE IN EVERY BOOK UNLESS IT FITS. I really hate this, I am always finding this in books that do not need it. And the characters don't please me either. The little brother is very unrealistic. Kids are actually pretty smart. I hate how the author portrays him as a younger kid. The writing was a little over the top, but better than I could do. I liked the idea, but not the final result.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
304 pagess
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good quick easy read everyone can read.224 pages 50 chapters.real short chapters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
There's something about finding a book randomly on the shelf, say at a library. And either the cover, title or premise of the story catches your interest, you go in blind, not sure what to expect, having heard nothing about the book. That's how I felt with this one. You have a girl who finds her mom's phone at her studio apartment, with her and her little brother and dad dealing with mom's death. On the phone, she finds there's seven messages and decides to listen to each, thinking there might be answers to questions concerning her mom. While she does investigate if there was more to her mom's death, it was also Luna coming to terms with some things. I kind of liked this at first, then by the end of it, I really liked it, my rating changing from 3 to 3.5 so you could say this is a 3.5 and slightly 4. Or both. Also, Tile, was adorable in this, you just want to give him a hug, which made his and Luna's sibling relationship even better. Its nice to find a book now and then where the siblings care for one another instead of acting like bitter enemies or something. The writing and descriptions of the places, Luna's observations I liked. It just flowed well, or it had to do the slow pace. So basically, this was a good quick read, though I took my time with it. The photography part did make me think of another book, Hold Still.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is good but it is very strereo typical towards blondes i am blonde and this book really hurt me at times. I have been stereotyped so many times and this did not makeme feel better about it
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads in.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im reading this book right now. So far, its really good.
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