cover image The Sound of Letting Go

The Sound of Letting Go

Stasia Ward Kehoe. Viking, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-670-01553-5

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.)