Song Reader

Song Reader

by Lisa Tucker

Hardcover(Large Print)

$29.95
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Overview

From a talented new voice in fiction comes a novel complete with unforgettable characters and unforgettable songs.

Leeann's older sister Mary Beth has a gift. When the two sisters are left alone after the death of their mother and the disappearance of their father, Mary Beth becomes the hero of both her younger sister and their entire town. She is a "song reader." She doesn't read palms or tarot cards; she reads people's secrets and desires from the songs they can't get out of their minds. And her customers idolize her. As Leeann tells us, "They took her advice-to marry, to break it off...They swore she could see right into their hearts."

But as Leeann soon learns, every gift has its price. The sisters' bond will be tested when Mary Beth's advice leads to a tragedy that divides their small Missouri town. As Mary Beth retreats into her own world, Leeann must face the truth about their parents and their past, and the flawed humanity of the sister she adores. Lyrical, haunting, with a deeply compelling story, The Song Reader is an exploration of what makes a family, what breaks it apart, and how the bonds of love and blood can be both a burden and a blessing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786260140
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 12/01/2003
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 5.68(w) x 8.74(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Lisa Tucker is the bestselling author of The Promised World, The Cure for Modern Life, Once Upon a Day, Shout Down the Moon and The Song Reader. Her short work has appeared in Seventeen, Pages and The Oxford American. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

Hometown:

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Place of Birth:

Missouri

Education:

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1984; M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1987; M.A., Villanova University, 1991

Read an Excerpt

from The Song Reader

It started when we tried to find our father, once, a long time ago. It was after Mom died, back when we were still reeling from the loss of our normal life.

Tracking him down was my idea, although I thought it was the obvious thing to do under the circumstances. My sister didn't agree. At Mom's funeral, when people asked her if we were going to contact our father now, she stared right through them. Later she said she couldn't believe such a rude question. How could it matter after this? How could anything matter after this?

Mom had been on her way home from the July sale at Venture when she pulled out in front of an eighteen-wheeler on Highway 61. Her car was cut in two but, when the insurance adjuster pried open the trunk, the bag from the sale was still intact. A green-and-pink striped bath towel, two packages of girls' size ten underwear for me, and the album Plastic Letters for Mary Beth. Mom didn't know anything about Debbie Harry or punk, but she'd always called Mary Beth her blondie.

What I remember about that time is how tired I was. I would go to bed so sleepy that I felt like I'd be out for hours, only to startle awake again and realize what had happened. Mary Beth had the same problem, but when the doctor offered her sleeping pills, she said no. After he left the room, she mumbled that he could just shove those sedatives. "Doctors try to solve everything with pills," she told me, "even feelings."

I would have gladly taken them but nobody offered. I was just a kid.

We waited weeks to clean out Mom's bedroom. We bagged up the clothes first, to give to the needy. It was what Mom would have wanted. Mary Beth was almost six feet tall; Mom had been five feet three at best, and I had no immediate plans to wear polyester pantsuits and stiff-collared shirtwaist dresses.

Dad had been gone five years by then, and the room seemed like it had always been only Mom's. There was no aftershave stain on the dresser, no tie collecting dust in the bottom of the closet, no flattened, laceless wing tip under the bed. It was just luck that I found his ring under Mom's cedar chest -- luck in the form of an old vacuum cleaner that balked and spit the silver circle back at my ankle hard enough to make me bend down and take a look.

It took me a minute to realize that the ring must have been Dad's. It was engraved with his initials, HN, Henry Norris, but it was so small it fit me. It turned out he'd worn it as a little boy, a gift from his mother. Dad adored his mother. This was one of the few facts I had about him.

He grew up in Shelbyville, Tennessee. His father died when he fell off a train, drunk, when Dad was seven. His mother had to support them with her sewing, "piecework" they called it, since she was paid only when she finished a piece of clothing, getting nothing if she was too sick or tired to turn in anything at the end of a day. But when Dad was seventeen, she too died suddenly. She had a stroke of some kind, quite rare as young as she was, and I'd heard whispers between cousins I barely knew about Dad's reaction: how he had a kind of nervous breakdown and great-aunt somebody had to take him to her house to recover, and how after that he, the brightest-smartest-could-have-made-something-of-himself boy you ever saw, never even finished high school.

Mary Beth told me once it takes guts to go nuts, and he must have had guts. "Most people," she said, "ignore the wound, put a Band-Aid on it, and forget it. Only the gutsy ones can look right at the blood, stare into the pain, and risk losing their minds to know what's what."

I didn't think she was talking about Dad though. She almost never did.

I wore the ring for several weeks, thinking it would tell me something about him. I'd had a dream he was standing on a boat wearing a skipper's cap, holding a compass, issuing directions to unseen sailors. Later I realized I'd seen a picture of him on a boat, taken when he and Mom were on their honeymoon at the Lake of the Ozarks, but this didn't shake my feeling that he had crossed the sea and was thousands of miles from Tainer, Missouri.

When Mary Beth saw the ring on my finger, she said, "How cute," as though I was a little kid playing dress-up, as though this ring was as meaningless to me as the ones that shot out in colorful plastic orbs from the gum-ball machine.

She knew I didn't really remember Dad. I was five when he left us; she was seventeen. One of the only discussions we'd ever had about him was when she realized I was making up things, telling my friends whatever came to mind, from a secret government assignment that called him to Venezuela, to a job in Hollywood, behind the camera for Eight Is Enough.

I think she felt sorry for me, because she gave me two true stories instead. When he worked for Hedley's Auto Parts and Tires, she said, he made a jungle gym out of junk parts and old tires that had a ten-foot-tall hideout that was the favorite of all the kids in the neighborhood. And once, he won a contest at the civic club downtown. It was like Name That Tune and he could name them faster than anyone. He always loved music, especially tunes from shows like Oklahoma and Carousel and classical stuff.

Neither of these things helped. The jungle gym had nothing to do with me; I'd never even seen it. (We'd moved into our apartment on the second floor of Agnes' house when I was just a baby; Mary Beth said it would have been impossible to move even if we'd had the yard space.) And the contest business was just another connection between Dad and my sister that I didn't share. She was the musical one, the one who'd had the largest record collection in the senior class.

Maybe I wanted to know something about him that she didn't. Maybe that's why I started writing to his relatives to locate him, without mentioning what I was doing to her or anyone.

Mom had kept some of their addresses in her blue phone book. I began with the N page, for Norris, and just kept going, writing one a day, every afternoon, before Mary Beth came home from the restaurant. I knew it was a long shot, but Mom always said hard work would pay off in the long run.

And it turned out to be true. After a few months of writing, I got the information I was waiting for. Joseph Morgan, from Kansas City, a second cousin of Dad's whom I'd met only once long ago at a family reunion in Boonville, had seen Dad. His letter went on for two pages, updating me about people and things I'd never heard of, but it ended with the news that Dad had given him an address. No phone, not even an unlisted one, but a street and an apartment number and even a zip code.

I folded the letter carefully and stuck it in my dresser, under my pajamas. I intended to keep it a secret from Mary Beth for at least a few days, but I barely lasted through dinner.

She didn't speak for a full minute after reading the letter. I thought for sure she was upset, but then she smiled. "You did it, honey," she said. "Good for you."

It crossed my mind that she'd known all along that I'd been trying to find him, but I was too happy to care. When I told her I was going to write him that night, she nodded. "Of course you are."

It wasn't a long letter. I told him we were doing fine, that I was in the fifth grade and my favorite subject was history. In the last paragraph, I told him about Mom. I almost didn't, figuring it would come as such a shock, but I worried that if I didn't, he might not write back. I signed my letter, "All my love. Your daughter, Leeann."

I circled the date I mailed the letter on the calendar, Tuesday, December 5, and calculated how long I would have to wait for a response. I figured for sure I would hear something by the fifteenth, but when the fifteenth came and went, I decided he hadn't written because he was going to just show up for the holidays and surprise us. I wished I'd asked him what he wanted for Christmas. I had to get him something, but I didn't know what he liked or his size or even his favorite color. I settled on a one-size-fits-all acrylic sweater from the Men's Place in bright blue and violet stripes. My favorite color was blue, Mary Beth's was violet. I figured our father had to like one of those colors at least a little.

Mary Beth knew I was buying Dad a present and she didn't try to talk me out of it. "It's sweet of you. If he doesn't come here for Christmas, we can always mail it to him. More important now is what you want for Christmas: you haven't told me yet, you know." She sighed. "I want to make this holiday as normal as possible. I think it's what Mom would want for us."

I didn't really care about presents, but I made a short list. On Christmas morning it was all there: a denim jacket, a Sony portable radio, and a set of fancy drawing pencils. But Dad didn't come. Of course. His sweater, wrapped in green and yellow snowmen, stayed under the tree in the back, almost out of sight, until New Year's Day when Mary Beth and I packed up the ornaments and put the tree out in the street with the trash.

I stuffed the present under my bed, where it was safe, and where I wouldn't have to see it everyday. I stopped thinking about Dad. I knew I'd have to keep trying, but I didn't know where to begin. About a month and a half later I came up with a plan. I would go to Kansas City to deliver the sweater myself.

This time when I told my sister there was no smile and good for you. She was watching One Day at a Time and filing her nails. She said it wasn't a good idea, and turned up the volume on the TV.

"Come on, Mary Beth," I pleaded. "I'm sure we could get there in a few hours. It's not that far."

"It takes about five hours, but that's not the problem." Her voice was flat; she was concentrating on the edge of her thumb. "Think about it. He knows exactly where we are, and yet he hasn't ever come back to see us. There has to be a reason for that."

When I pressured her to tell me what that reason could be, she shook her head. "I'm not up to discussing this right now. Please, Leeann, just leave it alone."

But I couldn't do that. Every night that week after she got home from work, I begged her to change her mind, and every night she told me to drop the subject. I tried everything, from promises of good behavior to persuading her latest boyfriend, Nick, to take my side. Nothing helped. My promises were sweet, she said, but they didn't change the situation. And Nick's advice was meaningless. What would he know about her family and her life?

He wasn't the first guy to hear that from my sister, and he wasn't the first (or last) to be dumped when he tried to interfere. She told him not to call anymore after she found out that he'd offered to take me to Kansas City himself one Sunday when she had to work. I felt bad for him, but I had to tell her. I knew it would be just the thing to make her realize she had no choice in the matter.

I didn't want to go with Nick; I wanted to go with her.

And it worked. She said we could leave in a few weeks, as soon as she could arrange a weekend off. I hugged her and thanked her. I said it would be an adventure, a real-life long-lost-loved-one kind of meeting like the ones in the movies.

"Maybe," was all she said.

When the Friday evening finally arrived, I packed up the present and my nicest skirt and knitted beige sweater while Mary Beth threw together some of her stuff. The trip took almost exactly five hours, and I was so tired when she pulled into a Travelodge motel in Independence that I fell asleep immediately, with my clothes still on, when I lay down on the stiff motel bed.

The next morning we had to get our bearings in Kansas City and find the downtown area, and then go south, like the map Mary Beth bought at the motel told us to do. When we finally got close to Dad's, however, Mary Beth decided we couldn't go yet since we hadn't had lunch, so we headed further south to the Plaza. I complained a little but I really didn't mind. Just seeing his neighborhood had made my throat go dry and itchy.

We ate, and then hung out at the Plaza, looking in store windows, trying on clothes we couldn't afford. Finally, Mary Beth said we better get going, and we headed back up to Harrison Street.

We found the address quickly. It was a three-story, dark red brick apartment building, run-down looking, with an overflowing Dumpster at the side, and two yellowing chairs sitting on the front lawn. We walked up to the door and opened it; my stomach knotted when I saw Henry Norris printed neatly on a white card above the middle of the six buzzers.

Mary Beth rang the buzzer. No one answered so she rang again. Still no answer, so she rang the buzzer on the left, underneath the card that said Landlord. A woman in a purple housecoat and silver-sequined slippers opened the door. She looked us over without any expression. "Who're you looking for?"

Mary Beth said, "Henry Norris. I see his name here, but he doesn't answer his buzzer. Do you have any idea when he might return? We're sorry to bother you, but we've come a long way, and we can't wait too long."

"I wish I knew. He let out of here two weeks ago without so much as a good-bye. He didn't owe me no back rent, but he left the place in an awful state. My nephew came over last week and took one look and told me he'd have to give it at least two coats of paint before I can advertise. In the meantime, I'm losing money, and I can barely make ends meet as it is. So I'm not real happy with Henry Norris right now. Are you related?"

"Yes," Mary Beth said. "We're his daughters."

She looked us up and down again. "Well, I'll take you up there, if you want to see it. I have no idea where he is, but maybe you can figure something out from the mess he left behind."

"No thanks," Mary Beth said. "He's not here. I don't see any point in looking at an empty apartment. Sorry to bother you, though."

She started to backup through the front door, but I grabbed her arm. "Wait, Mary Beth. I want to go up. Maybe there's a new address or something....Come on."

"Okay, okay." She turned to the landlady. "If it's not too much trouble."

We walked up one flight of narrow, creaking stairs: the landlady leading me with Mary Beth right behind. "It's up here," the woman said, pulling a ring of keys from her housecoat pocket. "Be careful," she added, looking at me. "This place ain't no playground."

She opened the door. "I'll be downstairs. Let me know when you've finished so I can lock up."

It was a one-room apartment, divided up into a living room area, with a small green couch, old TV with bent-rabbit-ears antenna, and wobbly wood-veneer coffee table; kitchen area, with a plastic-top table and two metal chairs with sticky brown rubber cushions; and a bedroom area, with a three-drawer dresser and a twin bed that came out of a closet. The landlady was right: it was a mess, but I hardly noticed the trash even though a couple of times I had to kick away crumpled paper and old cans. I didn't really pay attention to the smell either, although it reeked of spoiled food. It was the walls I noticed. They were covered with words, filled with big square letters. Someone -- it took me a minute to realize it must have been Dad -- had actually written on almost every available inch of the walls with a thick black pen. On the one behind the couch, I read "EVERY MORNING" in large print, and then underneath a list numbered from one to fifteen. Many of the words were smeared and illegible, but I made out:

Brush Teeth

Wash Face

Bowl of Cereal Juice Coffee

Bus #9 leaves from corner at 7:42

Pack lunch FIRST!

Get three quarters from drawer for bus there, three quarters more for bus home: total of six quarters needed.

Coat! KEYS!!!

Lock apartment door


Lists like this covered every wall in the place. There was a list for every evening over by the pullout bed, with instructions like "eat dinner," " lock the door," "wash out underwear for the next day." There was a list for each day of the week: Tuesday's list, in the bathroom, included taking the trash to the Dumpster outside; Saturday's longer list, by the kitchen table, included going to the Laundromat and the corner grocery store. There was another list right by the refrigerator of things to buy at the store (which seemed senseless to me until I decided he must have copied this one down on paper before he went to do his shopping). There were even reminders for specific days over by the door, such as "December 17: Library Books Due. Library Closes at exactly 7:30," and "November 8, 10:30 A.M., plant physical. Shower in morning first."

There were so many words, so many lists, and I moved from wall to wall like a spider, taking it all in. I couldn't stop reading, even though my mind was becoming numb from the boring repetition of the lists and my eyes were aching from the strain of squinting so hard to read in the early evening February darkness. I kept looking for something that would make sense of it, something that would explain the why of all these words. Only after more than an hour, when I'd seen all the walls and read every legible word, did I finally fall back, bone-tired, on the couch by Mary Beth.

Her eyes were closed, and her head was lying back, but I knew she wasn't asleep because her teeth were pressed down, biting her bottom lip. I told her I was ready, and she stood up without saying anything and we walked downstairs.

The landlady was cooking spaghetti sauce when we knocked on the door. The garlic smell was so heavy it made me feel nauseated. When she opened the door, she asked us if we'd found what we were looking for and Mary Beth nodded. Then Mary Beth opened her purse and pulled out two twenty dollar bills. "It's not much, but it'll help pay for the paint at least. I'm really sorry about your trouble, and thanks again for letting us go up there."

The woman smiled warmly for the first time. "That's awfully good of you. It's just too bad you didn't catch him. Hold on. I've got something for the little girl."

She brought out a bruised apple and put it in my hand. "You're probably hungry by now. You all take care of yourselves. If I see Henry Norris again, I'll be sure and tell him you were here."

Copyright © 2003 by Lisa Tucker

Reading Group Guide

1. Mary Beth was keenly aware of people's thoughts and feelings, yet she wasn't always able to transfer this knowledge to deal with her own situations with her sister, father, Ben, and even herself. Leeann, a teen with a reputation for being lighthearted and carefree, seems better able to address feelings and memories on a personal level. Mary Beth's secrets haunt her, her inability to deal with her own memories tortures her. How does this shape their lives? Leeann offered Mary Beth several opportunities to reveal the truth about the past. How would things have been different had Mary Beth been honest? Could she have avoided the breakdown?

2. Tommy, like Leeann and Mary Beth's mother, is an orphan. Why is Mary Beth inclined to take in an abandoned child? What void does Tommy fill in Mary Beth's life? Why does Leeann think Tommy will be able to heal and ground Mary Beth at the end of the book, when he was unable to do so when she first got sick?

3. Leeann's quest to find her father is an important part of the book. Knowing what she does about how ill her father is, why does she call on him for help? Does Leeann ever really find her father? If so, at what point in the story does she find him? Describe what you feel for Leeann's father.

4. Mary Beth is strong and has endured much. Why does the incident with Holly completely break her down? What really caused Mary Beth to shut down? Why do music, Tommy, and her father fail to bring her back? Do you feel differently about Mary Beth before, during and after her breakdown? Explain.

5. What qualities does Mary Beth share with her mother? What qualities does Mary Beth share with her father? What qualities does Leeann share with each of her parents? How do these qualities affect how the sisters relate to each other and how they see their circumstances? How does the sisters' past manifest itself in the relationships they have with Juanita, Ben, Kyle, Mike, Holly and other secondary characters?

6. Early in the book, the author gives the reader some insight about the circumstances surrounding the death of Mary Beth and Leeann's mother. After learning about how unhappy Mom truly was, do you accept the notion that her death was an accident?

7. The '80s have been characterized as a time when people began to talk openly about family problems and examine how their past influenced their present. The author artfully takes us back to the decade through pop culture references-the records, the record players, letters and the popular songs. How would this novel have worked differently had it been set in the today's culture of CDs, MP3s, e-mail, music videos and Oprah?

8. In several instances, walls play an important part in the story-when the sisters discover their dad's lists written on walls, when Mary Beth recreates her surroundings in the apartment after Leeann's accident and when Juanita reveals Mary Beth's first painting project in the basement of the old family home. What message is the author writing on the walls?

9. Where do you see each of the characters in five years? Do they relocate? Does Mary Beth take up song reading again? Does Leeann try to song read? How is Tommy's life influenced by his past? Does Dad leave again? Is Ben in the picture? How does Mary Beth and Leeann's relationship evolve?

10. Do you hope there will be a sequel to The Song Reader?

Introduction

The Song Reader

Questions for Discussion

1. Mary Beth was keenly aware of people's thoughts and feelings, yet she wasn't always able to transfer this knowledge to deal with her own situations with her sister, father, Ben, and even herself. Leeann, a teen with a reputation for being lighthearted and carefree, seems better able to address feelings and memories on a personal level. Mary Beth's secrets haunt her, her inability to deal with her own memories tortures her. How does this shape their lives? Leeann offered Mary Beth several opportunities to reveal the truth about the past. How would things have been different had Mary Beth been honest? Could she have avoided the breakdown?

2. Tommy, like Leeann and Mary Beth's mother, is an orphan. Why is Mary Beth inclined to take in an abandoned child? What void does Tommy fill in Mary Beth's life? Why does Leeann think Tommy will be able to heal and ground Mary Beth at the end of the book, when he was unable to do so when she first got sick?

3. Leeann's quest to find her father is an important part of the book. Knowing what she does about how ill her father is, why does she call on him for help? Does Leeann ever really find her father? If so, at what point in the story does she find him? Describe what you feel for Leeann's father.

4. Mary Beth is strong and has endured much. Why does the incident with Holly completely break her down? What really caused Mary Beth to shut down? Why do music, Tommy, and her father fail to bring her back? Do you feel differently about Mary Beth before, during and after her breakdown? Explain.

5. What qualities does Mary Beth share with her mother? What qualitiesdoes Mary Beth share with her father? What qualities does Leeann share with each of her parents? How do these qualities affect how the sisters relate to each other and how they see their circumstances? How does the sisters' past manifest itself in the relationships they have with Juanita, Ben, Kyle, Mike, Holly and other secondary characters?

6. Early in the book, the author gives the reader some insight about the circumstances surrounding the death of Mary Beth and Leeann's mother. After learning about how unhappy Mom truly was, do you accept the notion that her death was an accident?

7. The '80s have been characterized as a time when people began to talk openly about family problems and examine how their past influenced their present. The author artfully takes us back to the decade through pop culture references-the records, the record players, letters and the popular songs. How would this novel have worked differently had it been set in the today's culture of CDs, MP3s, e-mail, music videos and Oprah?

8. In several instances, walls play an important part in the story-when the sisters discover their dad's lists written on walls, when Mary Beth recreates her surroundings in the apartment after Leeann's accident and when Juanita reveals Mary Beth's first painting project in the basement of the old family home. What message is the author writing on the walls?

9. Where do you see each of the characters in five years? Do they relocate? Does Mary Beth take up song reading again? Does Leeann try to song read? How is Tommy's life influenced by his past? Does Dad leave again? Is Ben in the picture? How does Mary Beth and Leeann's relationship evolve?

10. Do you hope there will be a sequel to The Song Reader?

Lisa Tucker is the author of The Song Reader and Shout Down the Moon; she has also published short work in Seventeen, Pages, and The Oxford American. She has advanced degrees in English and math, and has taught creative writing at the Taos Conference and UCLA. Lisa lives in Pennsylvania and New Mexico with her husband and son. Visit her website at www.lisatucker.com.

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The Song Reader 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
mbergman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sure the review's description of the premise intrigued me. A young woman is able to help people solve personal problems by analyzing the songs that stick in their minds. But in the first half of the book where that's the focus, the book feels like what the cover looks like--lightweight chick lit. But then midway through the book takes a sharp turn to a domestic dram of a deeply troubled family in which the mother has died & the mentally ill father has left. It's not very satisfying.
BrittBrann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Song Reader was a quite intriguing look at a very troubled family, and community in general. The idea that reading the songs people have in their heads, as signs to help them in their personal life, is very creative and quite unigue.Though,by the end I couldn't wait to have read it and be done with it.I'm sorry to say it did not satisfy my curiousity I had with it to begin with. Perhaps I cannot relate to it because I do not have a sister, or a dad that is that mentally unstable, or a mom that was that tough on me or my brother.I really didn't like the character of the mom. I understand that she had a hard life growing up and wanted her kids to be tough, but that isn't a good enough excuse to make Leeanne feel so unloved or to basically squash Mary Beth's future.All in all the book left something to be disired.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about secrets, mental illness, love, and healing. Mary Beth is the older sister, a waitress with a side job as a song reader. Her clients tell her what songs continually pop into their heads, and Mary Beth, using charts and her own scientific method, helps them figure out what a certain song is telling them about their life and what they should do about it. Little sister Leeann is in high school and worships her older, beautiful sister. Dad left the family when Leeann was very young, and Mom died in a car accident, so Mary Beth is the caretaker and does an excellent job. She even adopts a 1-year-old little boy, Tommy, who is abandoned by one of her clients. All of this, though, is taking an unseen toll on Mary Beth, and everything comes to a head when a situation with a client takes a tragic turn. That's when the family secrets come out, and Leeann learns the truth about her parents and her sister. Leeann is the narrarator of the book and has lots of teenage moments but is also heartbreakingly honest and sweet and tough when she needs to be tough. Based on the cover, I thought this was going to be a light, chick-lit-type read and didn't have high hopes for it, but I was pleasantly surprised.
ibeardsell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I've read by Lisa Tucker, the first being, Once Upon A Day, and again I was impressed. Although I liked Once Upon A Day a little more, The Song Reader is an enticing story that eventually uncovers the hidden history of a family comprised of two young sisters. The younger sister, Leeann, is moving through adolescence yearning for her absent father, dealing with the death of her mother, and being raised by her overly responible older sister, Mary Beth. Mary Beth creates a business of "song-reading": helping people in their small town come to terms with their minor neuoroses by examining the songs they can't get out of their heads. A chain of events around Mary Beth's song-reading pulls the plot along, helping us discover the reasons behind the family's disintegration. Although a subject of heavy, psychological undertones, the author skillfully crafts in some humour and always an underlying sense of hope about the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down. Read while traveling through Wyoming for the first time and hope I didn't miss to much scenery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
of-course More than 1 year ago
While the premise is interesting, the story gets lost among all the different sub-plots.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A new concept in learning about people's lives, and an interesting title for a beautifully old fashioned story about family and friends. THE SONG READER by Lisa Tucker goes down a sentimental journey of old song favorites from the 70's to tell the story of two sisters and the love, loyalty, friendship, and trials that bond them as they grow. There is a mystery element about the telling of these girls lives that also makes the reader want to keep reading and reading. This story will relate to every woman who is a 'fixer' in people's lives. Those women who have time for everyone's problems but their own. The 'people pleaser' who everyone turns too, but who often neglect themselves, and sometimes finds themselves neglecting their family also. Then there is the 'family secret' idea. Are we protecting our loved ones or are we just leaving them in a limbo of wondering 'why' people and events are not quite right as they are happening. This story is not at all maudlin as it might be because of the subject matter. Interestingly, it shows the strengths and abilities of people to deal with what comes up in their lives when they are using their own abilities and the strength that they gain from the support of family and friends. It also shows that family can cause each other pain and mystery just because they feel the need to 'protect' one another. Eventually, 'truth' comes out at the conclusion of this story. What a lovely and emotionally satisfying tale of the human spirit to survive and thrive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who loves music will love this book! But you don't have to love music to enjoy it. The story about two sisters and their search for their father is a page-turner right until the very end. I loved this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the beginning I found the book inspiriring (like everyone else seems to think), but towards the middle it got very boring. The storyline was too dragged out and slow-moving for it's own good. Towards the end, I had to force myself to finish reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Song Reader is the best book I've read in a long time! Mary Beth & Leeann are so real they feel like friends. The story is beautifully written, in addition to being impossible to put down. Our book club has picked it for May and I can't wait to discuss it with my friends. The end was fantastic: unexpected and yet exactly right, a rare combination in fiction. This book has heart and soul and intelligence. I absolutely loved it, what else can I say?
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Missouri, a car accident kills the mother of the Norris sisters leaving them with only each other as their father has not been around forever. The older sibling, Mary Beth uses her uncanny ability to know people's desires by 'reading' the songs that stay and play inside their heads to earn money and prestige. As a song reader she has helped the townsfolk, who cherish her. By being her sibling, her preadolescent sister Leeann too has received some of the accolades. People heed the advice of the older sister when it came to marriage, divorce, and just about any other affair of the heart relationship choices.

However, the heroine quickly falls off the pedestal when her advice turns tragic. Not only are some of her former worshippers down on her, but Mary Beth cannot cope with the subsequent disaster. She retreats inside her own world, leaving it to Leeann to face the truth and search for their lost father even while struggling with the collapse of her too human champion.

THE SONG READER is a delightful look at a family already in trouble when a new crisis nearly debilitates the breadwinner. Lisa Tucker avoids soap opera clichés with her powerful portrayal of the two sisters, whose relationship with one another and with townsfolk dramatically turns on one event. Readers fortunate to read this insightful character study will sing the praise of Ms. Tucker for this unusual tale.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
I hate to compare such an original voice as Lisa Tucker's to other authors, but there fans of LOVELY BONES and DEEP END OF THE OCEAN will pounce on this debut novel. This is the kind of book that becomes a huge word-of-mouth hit because whiule you're reading it, you'll want to read passages aloud to friends and when you're nearing the finish, you'll be biting your tongue to stop yourself from revealingthe secrets and plot twists to friends who havent read it yet. Once you've finished it, you'll want to recommend it to everyone you know just so you can talk about it and enjoy it all over again. The idea of reading people's future (and past and present) via the songs that are stuck in their heads, is a wonderful invention. It's a clever and thought-provoking idea. But the novel is much more than just that idea: it's a compelling and moving (and funny) tale of family secrets, grief, sacrifice and salvation. You won't forget this novel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Mary Beth and Lee Ann have inhabited my soul. Their story is beautifully written by Tucker, but the book is also a great read. I found myself stopping to treasure a lyrical phrase or a challenging idea and then wanting to race ahead to find out how Lee Ann (or if Lee Ann) is able to pull herself and her family out of the situation that they find themselves in. I won't say more because I am encouraging every person I know to read this wonderful work as soon as it is available. The Song Reader will live in my heart and in my head for a long, long, time.