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The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker

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Review Excerpts

The Times Leader – May 28, 2003
“The Song Reader is an endearing tale about growing up in the midst of tragedy, family struggles and mental illness… Love weaves in and out of the story for both Mary Beth and Leeann; love of family, friends and the joys and sorrows of romantic love intermix in this story of growing up…
It is an intriguing and heartwarming tale of family and struggle. And throughout the story – in the midst of heartbreak, pain, and struggle – we are reminded once again of the awesome healing capacity of love.”
-- Deborah Sisson

Culture Dose – May 20, 2003
“The Song Reader, Lisa Tucker's debut novel… is my pick for best book so far in 2003… a story that'll have you alternately whimpering and giggling to yourself throughout the book… The Song Reader is just a spectacular novel, fulfilling all the requirements for such a designation: It's surprising, funny, sad, easy to get into, well-plotted, original, and rich in its characters. I can't recommend this one highly enough, so I'll have to settle for giving it a full five stars and wishing I could go better than that.”
-- Laurie Edwards

Booklist – May 13, 2003
“[A] poignant coming-of-age story… In Tucker's first novel, The Song Reader, teenage narrator Leeann Norris tells the story of her older sister, Mary Beth, a waitress who also works as a song reader for people in their small Missouri town. Along the way, Leeann reveals the challenging experiences she and her sister face after their single mother dies in a car crash… The Song Reader… is a page-turner, which features several compelling plots working in tandem.”
-- Jeff Perlah

The Boston Globe – May 11, 2003
“Tucker's song-reading device is ingenious, a useful springboard for exploring relationships. Leeann. . .[is] a sympathetic narrator. Tucker skillfully juggles the elements of this complicated story about the unbreakable bond between two sisters.”
-- Diane White

The Denver Post – May 4, 2003
“The Song Reader is about life and love and growing up… Tucker turns an engaging premise into a fascinating novel... Leeann's voice, a combination of wistfulness, pragmatism and humor, is utterly authentic... The Song Reader could well end up to be one of the summer's hot beach reads. It is engaging [and] it is discussable.”
-- Robin Vidimos

The Albuquerque Tribune – May 2, 2003
“Tucker's first effort out of the gate is a clear winner… [She] has taken a clever literary device… and used it to fashion a captivating story with characters so compelling you wish they could step off the page. But the book goes far beyond gimmickry to become a touching and achingly bittersweet tale about love, grief, sisterly bonds and a family damaged by good intentions and hidden secrets… This novel works on so many levels – the strong, suspenseful story line; the evocative characters you come to love (or hate); the eternal themes of compassion, forgiveness and redemption; and the wonderfully unambiguous and intelligent writing. It's hard to find fault with much of anything.”
-- Carrie Seidman

Library Journal – April 15, 2003
“Narrated by Mary Beth’s younger sister Leeann, the novel soon makes us privy to the utter dysfunction of both their family and the larger community... In this incisive and ultimately startling work, Tucker very skillfully reveals the damage that family members can do to one another and the energy required to repair the damage – or not. Recommended for most collections.”
--Patricia Gulian

Booklist – April 1, 2003
“Leeann is the perfect narrator for this engaging and bittersweet story of compassion, forgiveness, and the search for redemption. This is a wonderful first novel.”
--Carolyn Kubisz

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) – March 17, 2003
“Tucker's assured debut novel is an achingly tender narrative about grief, love, madness and crippling family secrets… Tucker's dexterous portraits of the fragile family dynamics expose quirky and compelling characters. Her expertly sprung revelations will surprise readers. This intoxicating debut may remind them of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides, but it's not lost in their shadows.”

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