Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather Rhapsody is a whimsical romp that takes place amidst a conference of high school music students at a formerly-grand hotel in backwoods New York state, snowed in by a storm and haunted by a murder/suicide from the past.

Author Kate Racculia has a light touch, even while tackling serious topics like grief, post traumatic stress, and suicide. She portrays an assortment of unbalanced power dynamics: between teachers and students, parents and their offspring, and between siblings. A gay teen's struggle to come out to his twin sister is done very well.

Racculia's exuberant style, twisty plot and larger-than-life characters kept me entertained and turning pages. It was a bit like a cross between The Grand Budapest Hotel movie crossed with a YA novel. Last week, the American Library Association announced Bellweather Rhapsody has been chosen as one of the 10 best adult books that appeal to teens, a list called the Alex Award.

Readalikes: Chopsticks (Jessica Anthony) - for the pressured musical prodigy/mystery aspects; and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (Jonathan Evison) or Come, Thou Tortoise (Jessica Grant) for the mix of quirky/adventure/pathos.

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