Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane

O'Shaughnessy, Kate. The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane
March 3rd 2020 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Maybelle and her mother struggle a little to make ends meet but are generally happy. All Maybelle has of her father is the memory of a voice mail on an old phone, but his laughter has stuck with her. When her mother gets a job on a cruise ship for a month making a great salary, the two know she needs to go, but this means that a neighbor at the trailer park (and teacher at Maybelle's school), Ms. Boggs, has to watch her. Ms. Boggs is very drab and set in her ways; she doesn't get up until 9:00, she has to have her afternoon nap, and she frequently spend time alone in a nearby cemetery and is not to be bothered. When Maybelle hears her father's voice on the radio, hosting a program, she is enthralled, and when she finds out that the radio station for which he works is putting on a singing contest, she knows she has to find some way to get to Nashville. She tries to buy a bus ticket, but ends up losing the emergency money her mother gave her. Surprisingly, when she tells Ms. Boggs about it, the teacher agrees to drive her to Nashville. It's a twelve hour trip, but they will only drive 3 hours a day. Tommy, who has bullied Maybelle in the past, has stowed away in the RV, and his parents agree he can continue the trip. The group has several adventures, including rescuing a dog from a mean owner and winning $1,000 in a scratch off lottery. Maybelle hasn't practiced any singing, picked out a song, or found an outfit for performing, so that is all worked on. Even though she almost chickens out and there are problems along the way, Maybelle eventually makes it to the contest. Will she be able to talk to her father and make him a part of her life?
Strengths: Road trip books seem to be having a resurgence, and this ticks all the boxes for a good one. Disparate traveling companions, a relatable mission, amusing adventures, and a well plotted story with appealing characters. I also appreciated that the father's reaction was realistic, and that the characters weren't soggily sad.
Weaknesses: It was hard to believe that Maybelle would recognize her father's voice, and this had a bit of a quirky, Southern vibe. Ms. Boggs' trajectory was also hard to believe.
What I really think: I have Acampora's How to Avoid Distinction, Bauer's One for the Road, Cooney's Hit the Road, DuPrau's Car Trouble, Gemeinhart's Coyote Sunrise, Pla's The Someday Birds, Stone's Clean Getaway , McVoy's Drive Me Crazy,  and Paulsen's Road Trip, and that's just a few of the road trip books I have. While I love them, my students are lukewarm about them, so I may have to pass on this title.
Ms. Yingling

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