Candidly Cline

HarperCollins. Nov. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063059993.
Gr 5 Up–Middle schooler Cline Alden’s life revolves around music, specifically country. Named after Patsy Cline, she uses playlists as pep talks, watches an old music variety show with her Gram every Monday evening, and teaches herself to play guitar with YouTube videos. Cline’s mother works at a café, and when her coworker Delia tells Cline about a young singer-songwriters workshop in Lexington, a few towns over from their small Kentucky town of Paris, she knows she has to apply. Her mother isn’t the biggest supporter of her musical dreams, so Cline has to go behind her back to raise the money, and get to and from classes. Once accepted to the program, Cline has a negative interaction with another workshop member, Sylvie, who is later assigned as her partner. Through Sylvie, Cline learns that first impressions aren’t always what they seem and sometimes people build walls to protect themselves, and her feelings for Sylvie shift. Ormsbee’s writing feels lyrical and full of country twang. Cline is an authentically relatable tween protagonist who, like her friends, shows only pieces of herself depending on who she’s with. As the story unfolds, she shows readers what it takes to live authentically and be true to yourself. This coming-of-age story tackles a myriad of topics in an approachable manner. Cline is cued as white.
VERDICT First purchase. A sweet tale of coming into one’s own and an affirming queer love story, too.

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