The Lost Songs
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, partly because this novel is set in the South, nearly all the characters, both white and black, are religious, and their Christian faith is a strong force in their daily life. Lost Songs is not about proselytizing, but if constant references to Jesus by people who regard him as a presence in their lives are an issue, heads up. The novel also features a crack-and-meth-addicted mom and characters' past stories of murder and violence.
What's the story?
Teenage Lutie Painter has always known about her musical legacy: gospel songs handed down by her maternal ancestors and committed to memory. Now, rocked by her crack- and meth-addicted mother's revelation that she's broken all the Ten Commandments, she wonders if she has a darker legacy, as well. Intertwined with her story as she searches for the truth are stories of some of her classmates: Doria, uprooted from her New England school by her parents' job loss and transplanted to the South, where she feels out of place; Kelvin, popular, affable, and unambitious; Train, with a brother in jail and the dark side calling. A host of kind adults try to keep the kids on the right path, while some opportunistic \"song-catcher\" types have self-serving designs on Lutie's songs.
Is it any good?
THE LOST SONGS offers a good read. Since the million-selling The Face on the Milk Carton, Cooney has established a well-deserved reputation for crafting compelling stories with plots and characters that grab even reluctant readers and keep them turning pages to the end. This one is an entertaining window on Southern high school life, a look at lives gone very right and very wrong, and a ringing endorsement of faith and the power of community.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how substance abuse damages families. Lutie's family raised her and took care of her after her mom abandoned her, so that she never wanted for love and security. Lutie is a happy, talented girl, an outstanding student -- but her crack-and-meth-head mom continues to devastate the entire family.
As Lost Songs explains, many poor African-American singers in the early 20th century had their songs stolen by enterprising people who recorded them and copyrighted them for themselves, making all the money. Do you think Lutie is right to be concerned about keeping this from happening to her grandmother's songs? Or should all music just be free?
Have you ever had to adjust to being in a new school in a new part of the country like Doria? How did you stay in touch with your old friends and make new ones?
Do you think that once kids have started to take up a scary or criminal lifestyle that they can turn themselves around? What would it take?